NCAA Tournament Mid-Major Player to Watch: Isaiah Canaan, Murray State

NCAA Tournament Mid-Major Player to Watch: Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
Murray State's Isaiah Canaan (Photo by Larry Ellis, Bullsville)

UPDATE: Here’s a piece I did on newest Bull Isaiah Cannan when he was a senior at Murray State:

If you’ve never heard of Murray State guard Isaiah Canaan, I highly suggest that you watch the Racers’ NCAA Tournament opener today against Colorado State.

With Butler making it to the Final Four the last two years, more people than ever are paying attention to mid-major players. This might make it impossible for any player to truly come out of nowhere in the tournament, but certainly the casual fan has never heard of Canaan.

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People may scoff at Murray State’s schedule, but they beat the good teams they played. Canaan had 15 points and seven assists as the Racers beat Memphis 76-72, and the Tigers are a #8 seed in the NCAA Tourney.

Southern Miss is a #9 seed, and Canaan had a season-high 36 points on 11/22 FG (6/11 3’s) in a 90-81 Murray win. Western Kentucky just won their first NCAA game, and Canaan had 18 on 5/10 FG in a 70-59 Murray State win over the Hilltoppers.

And in the biggest game in Murray State history- with Matthew Dellavedova’s 14th-ranked (and NCAA Tourney #7 seed) St. Mary’s Gaels, Dick Vitale and a Saturday night ESPN TV national audience, and yours truly in the CFSB center, Canaan put up 23 points on 9/13 FG, hitting 5/8 three’s in a 65-51 Racer win.

In four games against NCAA Tournament teams, Isaiah Canaan averaged 23 points, 5 rebounds and 4.3 assists. This is a guy who shows up big for big games.

He may only be 6’0″, but his step-back three-point shot is deadly, and he can get it off over anyone. He has the strength to finish in traffic, taking a bump isn’t a problem for Canaan.

Canaan led the Racers in scoring with 19.2 points per game, and he did it on an unheard of 11.9 shots per game. Perhaps the most amazing statistic about Canaan is that he averaged 19.2 points while attempting 15 or more shots in a game only five times.

He leads the team with 3.7 assists, and he shoots .484 from the floor, .840 from the line, and .473 from behind the arc (while attempting 6.5 a night).

Don’t be surprised if the Racers make a Sweet 16 run in this year’s tourney, and don’t be surprised if you hear the name Isaiah Canaan called out in this summer’s NBA draft.


Leave a comment
  • its not a game changer, but I like the signing as a change of pace/instead offense guard.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Yeah, at the very least I think he'll be much better than Brooks. That's not saying a whole lot, but any time you can improve the team, it's a good thing.

  • This is a great story, very inspiring. This week I also read stories about Felicio, Dinwiddie, Grant and now Canaan. I just wish I or someone could take these stories and distribute them around Chicago area schools so young adults could read them. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  • In reply to penwit1:

    Truth is, I actually only wrote this story because I wanted to go to the St Mary's vs Murray State game, so I hit up Murray's AD for a media credential (I live like 1/2 hour from their gym).

    Ironically, Steve Prohm was in his first year as Murray's head coach... yeah, the Steve Prohm who replaced Hoiberg at Iowa State when he got the Bulls job.

  • In reply to Bullsville:

    Keep writing here, this article was inspiring. Don't give up, I don't like your music--but writing and reporting basketball is your forte.

  • Thank you very much penwit1, I really, truly appreciate it. I'll try to write a lot more articles once training camp gets closer.

    Very few people like my music, but I do it mostly just for myself. I love writing lyrics and basslines, the rest of it is still pretty forced.

  • I have watched the complete match and both of the players played very well. They played with all the efforts and determination. More power to them for their work and users can check best writing services to manage the quality work. These pictures make everyone motivated.

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    Don Ellis started covering sports professionally when he was 15. The same year (1980), as a student assistant at Seeger Memorial High School in West Lebanon, IN, he was one of the first in the world to use, study and implement analytics in basketball. He attended Daytona State College and Ball State University, and some of his past credits include InsideHoops (NBA Runaround: The NBA According to Ellis) and ESPN Florida (The Florida Sports Reporters), where he was fortunate enough to work with many rising stars, including NFL Network's Dan Hellie, Redskins coach Jay Gruden, Magic radio and TV personality Dante Marchitelli, and WSB-TV (Atlanta) Sports Director Zach Klein. In addition to running the Bullsville blog and officiating basketball, baseball and football for the KHSAA, he is also a bass player and vocalist who writes and produces music in his spare time (you may remember his internet hit "I Hate Eddy Curry"). He's a 3rd-generation Cubs fan, a Bulls fan since the days of Van Lier and Sloan, and a life-long New England Patriots fan. He's seen Primus 9 times and thinks Les Claypool walks on water. By far his greatest accomplishment is being a father of three and grandfather of one.

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