Canyon Barry, Florida’s underhand free-throw shooter, is an Eagle Scout

The description of Canyon Barry the basketball player looks exactly like the description of Canyon Barry the Eagle Scout.

“He’s a quiet contributor, good teammate, happy for others’ success and he has a good heart,” said Brian Burnett, Canyon’s former Scoutmaster.

Burnett has watched Canyon and the University of Florida reach the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. Canyon is the Gators’ first player off the bench and was named his conference’s Sixth Man of the Year.

He’s also the son of NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry. And though Canyon is too humble to brag that he has a famous father, Canyon’s cover is blown the minute he steps up to the free-throw line.

That’s because Canyon, just like his dad, shoots free throws underhanded.

Scouting or sports? Try both

Canyon’s athletic prowess was expanding just as he was crossing over from Cub Scouting into Boy Scouting.

He found the perfect troop willing to accommodate Scouting and sports simultaneously: Burnett’s Troop 110 of Colorado Springs, Colo., where 80 percent of the Scouts played competitive sports.

“I remember asking the Scout Executive, ‘Is there a requirement that a Boy Scout troop has to meet every week?’ And he said, ‘It’s up to you.'” Burnett said.

And so Troop 110 met every other week for 90 minutes instead of every week for 60. They still went on an outing each month and attended national jamborees and council camporees.

The schedule allowed Canyon time to compete in basketball, volleyball, track and even badminton. He led the Cheyenne Mountain High School basketball team in scoring and was the school’s valedictorian.

“We went with an every-other-week cadence, and that’s how Canyon could make the commitment with a schedule that fit their schedules,” Burnett said. “I think that’s actually a lesson for Scout leaders.”

Troop 110 grew from zero members to 60 in just four years. New assistant Scoutmasters signed up in droves. Cub Scouts from other packs — not just feeder Pack 110 — heard about the troop’s schedule and joined.

“Canyon came into a troop that was built around the idea that you could be a Scout and a successful athlete,” Burnett said. “You just need leaders willing to break the mold.”

Modest and charismatic

Speaking of breaking molds, Canyon never acted entitled just because of his famous parents. (His mom, Lynn Norenberg Barry, is considered the best women’s basketball player in the history of the College of William & Mary in Virginia.)

Jack McBride, one of Canyon’s former assistant Scoutmasters, called Canyon modest and charismatic.

“Some kids are prima donnas,” McBride said. “He was not one of those. I wish I had 100 Canyons.”

McBride said Canyon’s Eagle project involved refinishing a basketball court at a school in Canyon’s district. But the young man wasn’t done there. He also went to a less-affluent neighboring district and refinished the basketball courts at one of the elementary schools there.

“We have a tendency to take care of our own schools and churches in our district,” McBride said, “but Canyon projected outside of our district to underserved individuals.”

At Canyon’s 2008 Eagle Scout court of honor, he showed off yet another talent. Canyon, who was first chair for his instrument in band, wowed the crowd with a rendition of the national anthem on the euphonium.

Unconventional, even at the foul line

Canyon shoots free throws “Granny style” — something that never really surprised his former Scoutmaster.

“He’s not afraid to be himself,” Burnett said. “He not only wears his dad’s number, he also shoots free throws underhanded.”

Take a look:

This is no gimmick; Canyon is really good at shooting free throws this way. At one point this season, Canyon made 39 in a row, breaking a University of Florida record.

Speaking of Florida, Canyon is proud of his Scouting background and even lists “earned the rank of Eagle Scout” right there on his official Florida Gators bio.

McBride has one more thing to add to Canyon’s résumé.

“He’s a natural leader,” McBride said. “Canyon is a natural leader with natural charisma and talent that is unbelievable.”

What’s next for Canyon?

That talent has led Canyon and No. 4 Florida to the Sweet 16. Florida plays No. 8 Wisconsin at 9:59 p.m. Eastern on Friday (March 24). The game airs on TBS.

After the March Madness ends, Canyon’s playing career at the University of Florida will be over. He graduated summa cum laude with a degree in physics from College of Charleston before transferring to Florida as a grad student. He is studying nuclear engineering.

McBride said Canyon’s future is full of possibilities.

“He could play ball professionally or overseas — or run some nuclear power plant?” McBride said. “The good news with Canyon is he can do whatever he wants.”

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