Former Florida basketball standout Canyon Barry pursuing gold in 2024 Olympics

Kevin Brockway
Gainesville Sun

Canyon Barry won SEC sixth man of the year honors in his lone season with Florida basketball, while earning a degree in nuclear engineering as a graduate transfer.

After pursuing a pro basketball career overseas and in the G League, the 30-year-old Barry has remained in basketball in a different format.

Barry was named to USA Basketball's 3-on-3 men's Olympic team in late March, no surprise considering the 6-foot-6 former Florida Gator swingman has excelled since he first joined the national program in 2019. His accomplishments as a USA Basketball 3-on-3 team member include winning a gold medal at the World Cup in Amsterdam in 2019, a silver medal at the World Cup in Vienna in 2023 and another gold medal at the Pan American Games in Chile last year.

During that time, Barry has become a literal globe-trotter, traveling to 16 different countries across South America, Europe and Asia while balancing a full-time job as an engineer at L3Harris in Melbourne.

"Growing up in Colorado Springs, the home of the Olympic training center, Iֱve seen first-hand how incredible being an Olympian can be and really what a life changing experience it is," Barry said. "Just having the honor to represent your country is something that you live for, and I definitely worked a long time towards. To finally have that goal realized means the world.ֱ

How former Florida basketball standout Canyon Barry got involved in 3-on-3 basketball

Barry comes from basketball bloodlines. His father, Rick Barry, was a Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer, who scored 25,279 points in a 15-year NBA/ABA career and won an NBA title in 1975 with the Golden State Warriors. His mother, Lynn Norenberg Barry, was a former women's college basketball standout at William and Mary who set 11 school records while earning Academic All-American honors.

Lynn Barry went on to serve as an assistant executive director with USA Basketball from 1985-96 and still had contacts with the organization. At a Final Four networking event in 2019, Jay Demings, USA Basketball's 3-on-3 teams director, approached Lynn Barry to see if her son has interest in trying out for the team. Demings thought Barry would be a good fit for the squad.

"I hopped on a call with him and got invited out in 2019 to USA basketball 3-on-3 tryouts," Barry said. "We played in nationals with a bunch of other G League guys and from there I was selected to the World Cup team."

Why former Florida basketball Canyon Barry has excelled in 3-on-3 basketball

The 3-on-3 format is played under FIBA rules and is different than the 5-on-5 game in many ways. It was first unveiled as an Olympic Sport for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

Games are played in the halfcourt, outdoors with a 14-second shot clock and 10-minute game clock. The court dimensions are 49 feet wide by 36 feet deep, with a 19-foot free throw line and 22-foot two-point line.

Teams must clear the two-point line following misses and like in traditional halfcourt pickup games, retain possession after made shots. Baskets are one point each and two points beyond the 22-foot arc. The first team to 21 points wins or whichever team holds the lead at the end of 10 minutes.

"You have to really be well-versed because there is nowhere to hide," Barry said. "Youֱre involved in every possession on the court. You have to be a fundamental player, adept at all aspects of basketball, which is why I think it translates so well to my game."

Given the limited dimensions of the court, the game also is physical.

"The NBA has gone to Freedom of Movement," Barry said. "I like to call 3-on-3 anti-freedom of movement, where itֱs wrestling to try to get open and get shots. So, itֱs definitely an adjustment, itֱs fun to watch, itֱs quick, itֱs volatile and I think anyone who likes watching basketball is really going to enjoy it in comparison.ֱ

In 2022, Barry won a gold medal and was named MVP at USA 3-on-3 Men's AmeriCup after averaging 6.8 points in five games. In 2023, Barry averaged 3.9 points and 1.4 rebounds for the US World Cup team.

"One of the keys to being a 3-on-3 player is versatility, and Canyon by far is our most versatile player," Team USA 3-on-3 head coach Joe Lewandowski said. "He can guard multiple positions, score in the interior and obviously score from the perimeter. Canyon does all of those things."

What are Team USA's chances of winning a gold medal?

Team USA just returned from a World Cup Tour opener in Japan in late April, where Barry helped guide the squad to a tournament win.

Barry's teammates with Team USA include some familiar names ֱ former BYU standout guard Jimmer Fredette, former Princeton forward Kareem Maddox and former Florida Southern College guard Dylan Travis.

"One of our Olympians, Kareem Maddox, actually had a little bit of a calf strain so we had a replacement there," Barry said. "To still be able to go into that tournament and win it with a replacement coming in on short notice and being able to adapt to our system, I think it bodes well."

Barry is counting on the chemistry of all four playing together throughout the 2023 season to result in a strong showing in Paris. The 2024 Olympics are scheduled for July 26-Aug. 11, with the 3-on-3 basketball competition set for July 30-Aug. 5 at the Place de la Concorde.

There are challenges maintaining chemistry, though, as all four players live in different cities.

"Iֱm in Florida, Jimmer is in Denver, Kareem is in Minnesota and Dylan is in Omaha," Barry said. "So thatֱs one of the challenges of our team compared to some of the other teams that live in the same city and train and practice together every day is we kind of need to schedule our training camps and weֱll meet, sometimes down in Miami, sometimes in Colorado Springs, weֱve met up in Butler, Pa., where our coach is based out of, we do whatever we can to make it work.ֱ

Another challenge for Barry is balancing basketball with his full-time job as an engineer in Melbourne.

"Just super thankful to LP Harris as a company because theyֱve allowed me to pursue my Olympic dream and really worked with me on scheduling and working remote," Barry said. "Iֱve taken conference calls in Mongolia at 3 a.m. to make this dream achievable, so the support I have from work has allowed me to continue to pursue this dream and I definitely stay busy with kind of two full time jobs."

How does Canyon Barry reflect on his time with Florida basketball?

After transferring from College of Charleston, Barry helped guide Florida to an Elite Eight in his lone season at UF in 2016-17, averaging 12.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists. He came up with a clutch shot block during UF's 84-83 Sweet 16 win over Wisconsin, a game decided on a 3-point shot by Chris Chiozza at the buzzer.

ֱֱI had a great experience at Florida," Barry said. "We made it to the Elite Eight, had that deep tournament run, super thankful for that."

Barry said he still keeps in touch with some former UF team managers and former walk-on center Schuyler Rimmer. He also ran into one of his other former UF teammates, Kasey Hill, earlier this week at Florida Atlantic University.

When Barry suits up in Paris, he will hold the distinction as the first former Florida basketball player to compete in the Olympic games.

ֱ"All around the world, if youֱre wearing Florida stuff you can get a 'Go Gators,'" Barry said. "So, super blessed of having that experience to play at UF and you know, I'm always rooting for them.ֱ

Kevin Brockway is The Gainesville Sun Florida beat writer. Contact him at KBrockway@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinBrockwayG1