Extra Motivation For Princeton Guard vs. Notre Dame
There is no need for additional motivation when it comes to playing in the NCAA Tournament, but for Devin Cannady, it’s there.
“I’d be lying to you if I said it wasn’t,” the sophomore Princeton guard told Irish Sports Daily this week in advance of the Tigers’ opening-round game against Notre Dame on Thursday.
Cannady is a Mishawaka native and played for the same Marian High School program as former Irish guard Demetrius Jackson. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder describes his own recruitment by Notre Dame as “very light.”
“When Demetrious was getting recruited, in a way it was as if they were recruiting both of us at one point in time,” he explained. “Once he committed, they kind of stopped throughout the end of my sophomore year.
“The extent of my recruitment wasn’t great. I went on a couple unofficial visits, went to a couple football games, but that was really it. It never really went anywhere once my junior year started.”
Cannady acknowledged if the Irish had gone after him seriously, there’s a good chance he’d be in the locker room on Thursday.
“I wanted to stay close to home and play for one of the big major schools in Indiana and stay close to home so my family could watch, the people who support me could continue to watch me play,” he said. “Obviously, growing up close to Notre Dame, Notre Dame was that school I wanted to be at.
Notre Dame wasn’t the only school to pass on Cannady, who played in every game and averaged double-digits as a freshman before becoming a starter and scoring almost 14 a game as a sophomore. Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson, an Indiana native himself, took advantage.
“It just opened my eyes to the fact that I didn’t have to be home to feel at home,” Cannady said of Henderson’s pitch. “That’s what Princeton provides for me off the court and even outside of the classroom.
“When Princeton came around and I knew none of the big schools in Indiana wanted me or were going to offer me, Princeton was obviously a fantastic option and I couldn’t pass that up.”
In just his second year in the Ivy League, Cannady has already made his mark as a deadly outside shooter – making 42 percent of his three-pointers this season – and an explosive scorer having had four games of 25-plus this year. He was named All-Ivy League Honorable Mention for his efforts. Some believed he should have been on the Second Team and while that isn’t something he spends much time worrying about, it too provides some additional motivation.
“We have three players who were First Team, one was Player of the Year and one was Defensive Player of the Year,” he said. “It just shows the depth of this team. On any given night, one of us four and anyone else down the line could step up. Anyone could have been mentioned for that. I’m happy it was me, but those personal accolades don’t mean anything if you don’t win. That’s why being in the Tournament means so much.
“In terms of success, I feel as if even throughout my high school career and even now with only being mentioned as Honorable Mention, it still goes a little unnoticed. I do what I can day in and day out to help my team be successful. I’ve done that my whole career in high school and here. I’m looking forward to continuing that.”
And he’s looking to continuing that against the Irish on Thursday.
On Selection Sunday, Cannady was anxious to find out where the Ivy League champs would be slotted in the Tournament and he had to wait until the final region was revealed, although the wait was worth it as they got bumped up a seed-line.
“We were actually anticipating a 13-seed because that’s where Joe Lunardi had us predicted for a long time,” Cannady admitted. “To see us pop up as a 12 was a sign of respect for the committee given our body of work, especially in the past 19 games, being on a 19-game winning streak. We were happy with the 12-seed.”
Then, Cannady realized who his team was matched up against.
“For me, I was just smiling ear-to-ear seeing I’d be playing my hometown team in Notre Dame,” he said. “There was a lot of excitement, buzzing on my phone with a lot of people from back home texting me and calling me, excited for me to be in the Tournament and facing a team they know I grew up watching.”
Cannady believes the Tigers can pull off an upset if they play their game.
“Stay true to our principals, which have been defense, defense, defense,” he said. “That’s one thing going into this year we had to make sure we were on top of and we’ve been doing that. Focus on the defensive end, control the ball.
“I feel like it’s going to be a slow-paced game between the two teams. At the end of the day, in the Tournament, I feel it’s about teams who make shots in clutch moments. It’s going to be a great game. I can’t wait for it. It’s right around the corner. Like everyone knows it’s March, so anything can happen.”
Cannady said, “It’s an honor being able to open up the NCAA Tournament with this game and I think it’ll be a fun one.”
“This whole storyline with us playing them is significant in the fact that they didn’t want me and now they get a chance to play against me and my team who has won 19 games straight.”
He’s hoping to make it 20 on Thursday.