CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM|
Shanadee Canon has dazzled coaches in practice, but is waiting for her first action in a high school game.
Young at heart
Freshman Shanadee Canon
finds herself starting at
point guard for Kalaheo
Kalaheo freshman Shanadee Canon may have four years of eligibility remaining as a Lady Mustang, but that doesn't mean she's not already playing with a sense of urgency.
If anything, the 5-foot-8 Canon is a blur on the basketball court most of the time.
Name: Shanadee Canon
Likes: MTV, the beach and McDonald's
Favorite athlete: Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady
Favorite movie: "The Rundown"
Favorite pregame meal: Hamburger steak with gravy all around it from L&L
Highlights: Played every position for her Kailua Intermediate team that went 12-0 in the 2002-03 seasons
Quote: "I'm surprised to be starting with all the talent we have on our team."
"She has a real aggressive game -- she plays vertically," said Kalaheo coach Chico Furtado. "She's given us an added dimension in that she can take the ball from one end to the other and give us a lot more opportunities in the open court. It's kind of scary to put so much weight on such a young kid, but she's not shying away from that role. We're hoping for big things from her."
Few newcomers have created such a stir at the Kailua school, no small feat in a program that has produced current UC Santa Barbara standout Brandy Richardson, as well as the player Furtado most likens Canon to, Sharon Wahinekapu, whose talents currently belong to Portland State University. In Furtado's view, Canon has been "the missing piece" on a team that saw its string of five consecutive Oahu Interscholastic Association titles ended last spring.
For her part, Canon's greater chore is perhaps to not surrender the wonder of it all. Since a student at Kailua Intermediate, she dreamed of playing for Kalaheo, and by the seventh grade, she was already serving as a manager for the Lady Mustangs.
Now she finds herself in Kalaheo's starting lineup. Her long-awaited regular-season debut was supposed to come last night against Thompson Academy, but the Sharks forfeited because of a lack of players. Tomorrow night, the Lady Mustangs face another formidable task when they host OIA-East rival McKinley.
"I'm surprised to be starting with all the talent we have on our team," said Canon. "But I feel comfortable out there. When I reach the court, I'm ready to go. It's natural to me."
Kalaheo finished its preseason at 12-1, with its only setback coming in a loss to Konawaena over the weekend in the semifinals of the St. Joseph Tournament.
Canon earned a place on the all-tournament team for her efforts, despite suffering from the flu along with a number of her teammates.
"She was a little out of it, but she really toughed it out," Kalaheo assistant coach Kimo Furtado said.
"She shows a lot of maturity. She'll make the occasional freshman mistake, but she doesn't carry herself like a freshman."
The by-product of a 14-year old placing such an emphasis on a sport is the threat of burning out, but Canon's all-consuming interest in basketball appears unshakable.
"It was love at first sight," said Canon. "I love the game. When I was young, my Dad (Dwayne) was playing in an outside league -- he had also played at Farrington -- and I wanted to learn the game. He was a point guard, too, and I wanted to take after him."
Said her father: "We worry about her burning out, but it (basketball) keeps her healthy, it keeps her busy, and it keeps her out of mischief.
She's very responsible," he added. "When it comes to school, she's very focused. She also paddles and dances hula, and that helps. We're very proud of her."
With Canon in the fold, Kailua Intermediate never lost a game, and four of her teammates from her seventh-grade team -- Kaliko Kepa, Malia Samson, Brianne Villarosa and Halialoha Travis -- are on the current Kalaheo team.
The Lady Mustangs' "go-to-girl" remains junior Taylor Smith, who was rated among the top 50 players in her class last year by the national basketball magazine, Street and Smith's. A foot injury has hindered Smith of late, forcing Canon to become more assertive on the offensive end. She's currently averaging 10.3 points per game and connected on 60 percent of her free throw attempts in the preseason.
In a win over Roosevelt earlier in the month, she drove the Lady Mustangs across the finish line, tallying a game-high 17 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, while going 5-for-5 from the free-throw line.
"I think the other girls recognize that she has some abilities that the rest of them do not have," said Chico Furtado. "I also think they understand that she adds to the success of this team, and that's welcome.
"The biggest factor here is that Shan is just well-liked. She's a super kid. There's no arrogance there. She loves basketball.
"She loves being at Kalaheo, and she just wants to do what she can to make the team better."
Among the beneficiaries is junior backcourt mate Shantel Marumoto, who has returned to her more natural position of off-guard after spending bits of her career at the point guard spot.
"She contributes so much because of her speed and her power going to the basket," said Marumoto.
"The thing with Shan is that she has no fear -- she just goes. Coach has already given her a nickname. We call her 'The Jet.' "