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Canaan back at Murray for Racers' camp

By Mike Stunson mstunson@paducahsun.com

A former Murray State basketball All-American returned to his roots on Wednesday, giving local children a chance to catch up with their idol.

Isaiah Canaan, who is a current member of the Houston Rockets after a stellar career with the Racers, showed up to Murray State men's basketball coach Steve Prohm's Basketball Camp at the CFSB Center, much to the joy of the camp's attendees.

Over a dozen children were donning their Murray State or Houston Rocket jerseys with Canaan's number on it, with the former Racer saying it meant a lot to him to be a person the children look up to.

"I always dreamed of having those moments seeing kids wear my jersey and now I have that opportunity," he said. "It shows how far I have come personally and all the work I have put in to the game.

"I was in the same shoes wanting to be like Allen Iverson when I was little," he continued. "Now I have the opportunity to try and make a steppingstone for another little kid so hopefully they can live out their dream."

Canaan split time between the Rockets and the D-League Rio Grande Vipers, where he averaged 18 points and eight assists per game. Canaan was called up to the Rockets in February, playing a reserve role in 22 games.

Playing behind Patrick Beverley and Jeremy Lin at point guard for the Rockets last season, Canaan may have found his opening in the rotation with the recent trade of Lin to the Los Angeles Lakers.

"It's a better opportunity for me to be able to come in and know that I can compete for quality minutes," he said. "The team is doing everything they can to show me that opportunity. I'm going to continue to do the things that I'm asked to do and go out there and show them that I'm ready."

Competing against the likes of Chris Paul and Steve Nash last season was surreal for Canaan, but he said he can't go out there and be a fan because he wants to be just as good - if not better - than those players.

During the summer, Canaan played for the Rockets' summer-league team in Las Vegas, where he helped them to the championship game. The six-foot guard had games of 28 and 24 points in the league, and finished with a team-high 17 points per game with 3.3 assists.

Canaan said he felt like he made a good impression with the Rockets coaches and management with his summer league play.

"I showed them the hard work I have been putting in and doing the things they have been asking me to do," he said. "I showed them that they can depend on me and that I'm ready for whatever they want me to do."

With summer league over and training camp not beginning until the fall, Canaan now has a little down time to catch up with old friends and family. He said he will still by putting in as much work as he can, but is not obligated to be in Houston until camp begins in September.

Canaan will also be attending Murray's Hoopalooza next week, where he will be speaking along with former MSU coach Cal Luther, and former players Jim Jennings and Popeye Jones, among others.

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