Brennan Canada – Living a Dream, Encouraging Others

Lyn Scarbrough

October 02, 2023 at 3:12 pm.

Chances are that people reading this column have never heard of Brennan Canada.

You might know about Brennan if you’re a Kentucky basketball fan, a really big Kentucky basketball fan.

You’re more likely to be familiar with Brennan if you’re from Mt. Sterling, a rural town about 36 miles east of Lexington, founded by the Kentucky Assembly in 1792, populated by just over 7,500 in the most recent census.

Like so many towns and communities around the Bluegrass State, Mt. Sterling was a place where young boys grew up following the Kentucky Wildcats, dreaming of one day putting on the blue and white and taking the hardcourt for the Cats.

Not many young men see that dream come true. But, Brennan Canada did.

The people around Mt. Sterling, fans of George Rogers Clark High School, couldn’t have been surprised when Brennan became a Wildcat. He had the high school credentials, on and off the court.

On the court, he was a two-year team captain and completed his George Rogers Clark career with 1,371 points and 776 rebounds. As a senior, he averaged 15.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, logging 13 double-doubles and being named first-team All-Region for the third time. During his final three prep seasons, he averaged a double-double and his team won two district championships.

Off the court, he was a member of the National Honor Society and was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

As one of the best prospects in the state, Brennan would have a number of college scholarship offers. But, none of those was Kentucky.

“I started playing basketball at three years old,” he said. “I played Upward Basketball at the church, then I was a shooting guard on the middle school team (grades 6-8). I was our point guard until the 11th grade, then moved to forward for my last two seasons. I much appreciated not having that responsibility on my shoulders.”

Brennan’s parents, Lynn and Melissa Canada, followed Kentucky basketball and Brennan, an only child, learned from them.

“I remember watching Kentucky games on television with my dad and mom,” he remembers. “Playing for Kentucky … it was always a dream.”

So, when his dream school invited him to join the basketball team, even without a scholarship, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Playing on a team that’s always among the most successful in recruiting, where almost every four-star and five-star player wants to consider, Brennan didn’t see many minutes on the court or many number on the stat sheet.

As a freshman, he appeared in just four games. The following season, when he was a Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll member, he played in only two games with one steal in a win over South Carolina. As a junior (2021-22 season), he played in nine games, scored his first collegiate points against Central Michigan, scored again in wins over Western Kentucky and High Point, and blocked a shot against Tennessee.

Despite the lack of game action, Brennan, a 6-6 forward, never considered giving up his dream.

“It never crossed my mind,” he said. “Everybody on the team contributes the best way that he can. I can be an encourager to the other guys. That’s so very important. You never know what people are going through in everyday life. Where you have struggles, encouragement can keep you going.”

That life philosophy comes natural to Brennan. He was brought up in the Mt. Sterling Church of God since early childhood.

“Our small town is close knit,” he said. “I was involved in youth groups and church activities. It helped you get through the week.”

As a college athlete, Brennan still acknowledges that importance.

“It still helps me keep balance,” he said. “Finding time to go to church on Sunday, to go to Bible study. It helps change your perspective on a lot of things. You understand the importance of influencing people that you’re around. If they haven’t found God, that needs to be introduced into their lives.”

Two Wildcat players – Terence Clark and Ben Jordan  – have passed away during Brennan’s time on the team. Those deaths impacted the team in a positive way.

“You realize how important it is to be there for each other,” he said. “No day is promised, so we should be grateful for every day. It’s important to find God sooner rather than later. You never know how long your life will be.”

Brennan’s players and teammates acknowledge his contribution to the team.

“When you talk about what we look for in young people in this program, Brennan embodies it all,” head coach John Calipari said. “Unbelievable teammate and student who has brought so much to our teammates in practice.”

“I love Brennan, his attitude, and everything that he brings to our team. He helped our team so much,” said Oscar Tshiebwe, consensus 2022 National Player of the Year, now with the Indiana Pacers.

Last year, his senior season, he was surprised when Coach Calipari awarded him a scholarship in early January.

“It was surreal,” Brennan said. “I was so appreciative and honored. It was definitely a surprise. I wasn’t expecting it, especially that day. It was kind of the best Christmas present!”

Now, Brennan is back for a final season as a graduate student, allowed due to the COVID situation. He just hopes that it’s a championship year and that he can contribute to it.

He lives by his favorite scripture passage, Philippians 4:8–10, The Living Translation …

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me — everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

Remember the name Brennan Canada. Every team should have one like him.