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Florida’s Canyon Barry is making underhand free throws cool again

Barry set a school record by making 39 straight free throws.

NCAA Basketball: Belmont at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

No player in basketball history is more synonymous with free-throw shooting than Rick Barry. Barry famously took his foul shots underhanded, and when he retired from the NBA in 1980, his 89.3 free-throw percentage made him the most accurate freebie shooter ever.

Barry’s sons Jon and Brent each had distinguished NBA careers as role players a decade ago, but neither adopted their father’s free throw shooting form. His youngest son did.

Florida guard Canyon Barry set a school record on Sunday when he made his 39th consecutive free throw. Barry shoots them underhanded, just like his old man:

Barry hasn’t missed a free throw in nine games, with his last miss coming against Tennessee on Jan. 7. On the season, he’s shooting 89.7 percent from the stripe. That’s almost identical to his father’s mark.

The underhand free throw has essentially been dead since papa Barry retired. Terrible free-throw shooters like Shaq and Andre Drummond publicly disparaged the idea. It was only last year that Louisville big man Chinanu Onuaku brought it back to the mainstream at the college level and then in the NBA during his limited minutes as a rookie.

Onuaku used the underhand technique just to give himself a chance — he ended his college career as a 54.7 percent shooter from the stripe. Barry, meanwhile, is shooting free throws about as accurately as anyone in college basketball. He’s 87-for-97 on the season.

He can even make them from halfcourt:

Barry is a grad transfer spending his final year of eligibility in Gainesville after a productive three-season run at College of Charleston. Florida is suddenly red-hot as winners of six straight, and Barry is the team’s second leading scorer at 12.7 points per game.

America could become really familiar with that free-throw stroke if the Gators make a deep tournament run. Who knows. It might even inspire a new generation of underhand foul shooters.