Former Florida basketball player Canyon Barry tosses an underhanded first pitch prior to the UF baseball team's series opener against South Carolina (Photo by Jordan McPherson)
Before Florida basketball alumnus Canyon Barry trotted out to the mound to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Thursday’s series opener against South Carolina, he had just one thought.
“No need to risk anything here,” Barry said before letting out a quick laugh. “No Not Top-10 performances for me.”
He won’t have to worry about that.
After toeing the rubber and doing a traditional windup, Barry paused before tossing the pitch with his signature underhanded style directly over the plate for a strike to officially set up a pivotal SEC series for the 12th-ranked Gators baseball team.
Point guard Chris Chiozza -- who made the miraculous overtime buzzer-beater against Wisconsin to send the Gators to the Elite Eight -- was supposed to throw the first pitch but was unable to make it.
This isn’t Barry’s first exposure to baseball, though. Before his basketball career took off, he played for his high school’s baseball team during his freshman year.
“Hated every second of it,” Barry said. “[I was] bored out of my mind, but it’s fun to come out, eat a couple hot dogs and watch the guys play.”
Barry just finished his first and final season with the Gators men’s basketball team, a year that ended with a trip to the Elite Eight. The graduate transfer averaged 11.4 points per game, second on the team, and made a team-high 113 free throws -- all underhanded like his dad, NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry. He was named the SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year and earned the CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year while studying for his master’s in nuclear engineering.
After the season ended, Barry was one of 64 seniors invited to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a postseason camp that serves essentially as a mini combine for college seniors as they prepare for the chance to play in the NBA. Barry averaged 14 points and 7.3 rebounds during the three-game tournament.
“I was happy with it,” Barry said. “I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I think I showed off how athletic I can be. … Hopefully some NBA teams took notice.”
And now, it’s preparation for the NBA Draft. Barry said he has about five workouts lined up and is hoping to make a training camp. He also said starting his pro career in Europe is not out of the equation, either.
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win. I think I showed that here [at UF],” Barry said. “Just growing up around the game for so long, knowing the ins and outs of it and being a team player. … I’m just happy to be playing basketball and fortunate enough to hopefully play well enough to make a living.”