For the past several weeks, Clark County basketball standout Brennan Canada has been walking around with a smile on his face and a secret that he wasn’t quite ready to share.
Canada — a 6-foot-7, 195-pound forward — recently wrapped up his senior season for the Cardinals, and he was sitting on scholarship offers from some Division II and NAIA programs.
His classmates, friends and family members wanted to know where he’d be playing next.
“Everyone has been asking, ‘Where are you going to school? Where are you going to school?’” Canada said.
“Ummm, I don’t know yet,” was usually his answer.
But he’s known the real answer for a little while now. Canada will be playing next season at the University of Kentucky, his dream school growing up. He had previously told only a few family and friends before officially announcing his status as a UK walk-on for next season Thursday.
“I still don’t know if it’s hit me yet,” Canada told the Herald-Leader. “I’m really excited. I’m thrilled, actually. It’s like a dream, you know?”
UK assistant coach Joel Justus first reached out to Canada about the possibility a few weeks ago. Canada, who averaged 15.0 points and 9.4 rebounds as a senior for Clark County this past season, had a handful of sub-Division I scholarship offers and had taken unofficial visits to Marshall, Northern Kentucky and Western Kentucky.
He could have gone the DII or NAIA route, but Justus’ offer immediately piqued his interest.
“It’s always been a dream,” Canada said. “You never really think you’re going to have the opportunity to play at Kentucky, but it’s every kid’s dream that grows up in Kentucky. So, whenever it got mentioned to me, I was like, ‘This is what I really want to do.’ I really didn’t want to pass it up. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”
Canada also played alongside UK signee Dontaie Allen with M.A.T.T.S. Mustangs on the spring and summer travel circuit. The Wildcats’ newest walk-on said he and the reigning Kentucky Mr. Basketball are close friends off the court, and that Allen had called him while he was on spring break to say he’d heard UK might be looking at him. Allen said he wanted to gauge his friend’s interest.
“I would love to do it.” Canada told him.
When Allen made that call, he had apparently already been told that Canada would indeed be offered the walk-on spot. He left his friend on the hook for a little while longer.
“I didn’t find out until a week later,” Canada said with a big laugh. “So I was like, ‘You’re telling me you knew the whole time and you couldn’t tell your best friend?! I thought we were closer than that, bro. You’ve gotta tell me that kind of stuff.’”
Canada said he comes from a big family of UK fans and counts the 2012 national championship season and the 38-1 run three years later among his favorite memories of the Wildcats’ program. His friends and family have reacted to the news in much the same manner that he did.
“They’re kind of like, shocked,” he said.
Canada, who made 35 three-pointers this past season and is comfortable playing away from the basket, took this opportunity with no illusions about his playing time moving forward. He knows he’ll be going up against five-star talent every day in practice, and he looks forward to the challenge. “It’s going to be fun, too,” he added.
His individual goal, especially in the short term, will be to help his teammates improve their own games through competition on the practice floor. His team goal will be no different than anyone else’s in that UK locker room.
“I definitely want to make everyone better, as much as I possibly can. I want to push everybody every day, and push myself. The overall goal is to win a national championship, but that comes along with a lot of hard work and making sure we improve day to day.”