Canyon Barry sat on the College of Charleston bench at the Asheville Civic Center last March and wondered if he’d made the right decision not to play his freshman year.
Barry, the son of NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry, had decided before he enrolled at the College of Charleston to redshirt his freshman season.
But a year without playing wasn’t easy for the self-proclaimed basketball junkie. And watching his teammates take on Davidson in the Southern Conference tournament final, battling for a berth in the NCAA tournament, certainly didn’t make his decision any easier to deal with.
“You put in all the work that everyone else puts in,” Barry said. “You’re lifting weights, you’re practicing, you’re watching film and then you want that payoff. You want to play in a game, but you can’t.
“The Davidson game was probably the toughest game. To be that close to getting to the NCAA tournament and to fall short was frustrating to watch. That game and the one against Louisville at home were the toughest.”
Barry wasn’t the only Cougar to sit out last season. David Wishon, a 7-2 center, also missed last season after transferring from Tulsa.
“It’s not easy sitting on the bench and watching your teammates play night after night,” Wishon said. “You want to be out there so badly. You want to contribute, but you know you can’t. It was a pretty long season last year.”
Barry and Wishon were back on the court this week as the Cougars prepare for their season-opener against defending national champion Louisville (Nov. 9, KFC Yum! Center). Barry and Wishon admitted that their mindset going into this season has been totally different from a year ago.
“We both know there’s going to be a payoff this year,” Barry said. “We’re going to get on the floor and play and that makes a huge difference in your preparation.”
Barry came to the Lowcountry as a recruit under former Charleston coach Bobby Cremins. Barry’s brothers Drew and Jon had played for Cremins at Georgia Tech. Canyon wanted to redshirt his freshman season, thinking an extra year in the weight room would help him later.
Although Cougars head coach Doug Wojcik could have used the 6-6 shooting guard last season, he honored the promise that Cremins made to Barry.
“Coach (Wojcik) didn’t have to do that. He could have asked me to play, but he didn’t and I appreciated that,” Barry said. “There were times when I really wanted to be out there, but I think in the end this will be the best thing for me.”
Wishon hasn’t played in a game in almost two years. After playing in 14 games as a true freshman at Tulsa, Wishon missed the second half of the season after undergoing foot surgery.
“It’s been a pretty frustrating couple of years,” said Wishon, a redshirt sophomore. “Missing last season was tough enough, but it’s been a long, long time since I’ve played in a game.”
Both agreed that the year off has helped them develop as players.
“I’m bigger, stronger and to practice at the college level for a year has made a huge difference in my game,” Barry said. “I know what to expect, I know what it’s going to take for me to contribute to this team.”
Wojcik expects Barry and Wishon to be in the Cougars’ rotation during the season.
“Canyon and David have both made significant strides in their games,” Wojcik said. “They’re both more mature on and off the court.”
Barry and Wishon said they are counting down the days until the Cougars game against Louisville.
“It can’t come fast enough,”Wishon said. “It’s going to be unbelievable. It’s been a long, long wait for me personally to get back on the floor and play in a real game.”