NEW ORLEANS, LA (WLOX) - It’s been said the odds of any one high school basketball player eventually playing in the NBA are about three in 10,000, or 0.03 percent.
So how about two athletes - who spent their high school careers less than 30 miles apart - making it to the NBA and playing on the same team? What are the odds of that?
“It’s a small world, man,” said Devin Booker.
“It’s very rare," Isaiah Canaan said. "You rarely see that.”
Moss Point’s Devin Booker and Biloxi’s Isaiah Canaan are the only two representatives of the Coast in the NBA, and also just so happen to make up the Phoenix Suns starting backcourt.
“It’s nothing but love. We always talk about the rivalries, the Moss Point versus Biloxi rivalries. We wish we could have gotten the chance to play against each other in high school, but it’s all good," Canaan said with a smile. "(We’re) here trying to live out our dream and trying to compete. Good thing we got a chance to play together.”
From becoming the youngest player in league history to score 70 points in a game to winning the NBA Three-Point Contest, Booker has quickly established is place in the association. The Suns rewarded his efforts with a five-year maximum contract extension worth $158 million this offseason.
“(It) meant a lot. I’ve always said Phoenix has been a home for me since I’ve been out there," Booker said. "It’s been unconditional love with the fans. Securing five more years and playing the sport that I love, it’s a blessing.”
Meanwhile, Canaan’s place in the Suns' backcourt - or really, his place in the NBA - seemed much more in doubt just about nine months ago.
“You know, being there when the incident happened... (It was) a gruesome injury,” Booker said.
In a game against the Dallas Mavericks last season, Canaan came down awkwardly from a lay-up attempt. The awkward landing left his left leg in a stomach-churning state that sent emotional reactions up and down the Suns and Mavericks' benches.
“(I felt) a lot of emotions, a lot of anger,” Canaan said.
The freak accident left Canaan with a dislocated foot, a fractured fibula, a torn ligament, and without a spot on an NBA roster.
But through all the adversity, the Biloxi native fought his way back on the court, and back in the Suns' rotation. As of Monday night, he has started every game at point guard for Phoenix so far this season.
“Nine months ago when I looked down at my foot I didn’t realize I’d be back at this point or back starting at this point, so it’s a blessing," Canaan said. "I just kept that faith and just kept the belief in myself.”
Their two professional journeys may have taken very different paths, but both led them from South Mississippi to the Suns starting backcourt.
Every time Booker and Canaan take the floor, they put on for the Coast. If rap superstar Drake wearing Booker’s Moss Point jersey on stage at a concert last month is any indication, that message is starting to spread.
“I try to put the city on the map the most I can every day, but I can’t reach that international stage like (Drake) did, so I thanked him a lot for that," Booker said. "A lot of people have never heard of Moss Point, but now since then, our name should be a little bit bigger on the map.”
It’s a message to all the young athletes in South Mississippi, that regardless of what the odds may say, your dreams can become a reality.
“You can actually make it coming from Mississippi and make it to the highest level, which is the NBA," Canaan said. "We always like to try to perform and just be a role model to all the younger kids that look up to us that have dreams of making it to the NBA just like we did.”
Through the first twelve games of the 2018-19 season, Booker’s average of 24.9 points per game currently ties his career high he set last season. Meanwhile, Canaan’s average of 9.3 points per game and eleven total starts are his highest in any season since his 2015-16 campaign with the Philadelphia 76ers.