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High's Canady makes tough decision to bypass senior basketball season

Rick Peterson, Top Sports News Writer

By RICK PETERSON
TopSports.news

There was a lot of back and forth and more than a few tears, but Topeka High star NiJaree Canady has made the decision to bypass her senior basketball season to concentrate on her softball future.

The two-sport All-Stater made an oral commitment to Stanford's softball program earlier this fall and said it was a hard decision to give up basketball after helping the Trojans reach the Class 6A state semifinals three straight seasons, including a pair of runner-up state finishes.

"I told the girls in the locker room like last week and there were a lot of tears,'' Canady told TopSports.news Monday. "I talked to my family a lot and my coaches, of course, and then back to my family and we all decided that Stanford is Power 5 softball and Pac-10 softball is one of the hardest conferences to play in, so we all thought it would be just easier to focus on softball and really zone in.

"The past three years I'd devote myself 100 percent to basketball during the winter and this year especially I can't afford to do that.''

NiJaCanadySeamanStanford-bound NiJaree Canady has opted to bypass her senior basketball season at Topeka High to concentrate on her future in softball. [File photo/TSN] 

Canady does plan to play for Topeka High's softball team next spring after helping lead the Trojans to a perfect 25-0 record and the school's first 6A softball title as a junior. Canady was named the Gatorade Kansas Softball Player of the Year as a junior

Canady compiled a 21-0 record in the pitching circle with a miniscule 0.26 earned run average while striking out 226 batters in 107.2 innings. Canady hit .478 on the season with 13 home runs and 49 runs batted in.

Topeka High basketball coach Hannah Alexander said it obviously hurts to lone one of the state' premier players, but said the Trojans support Canady's decision.

"We know she's got a bright future in softball, so we wish her all the best,'' Alexander said. "We definitely wanted one more year with her. She's brought so much to this program and this school on and off the floor, so that's truly going to be missed, just her leadership and her presence.

"She's just such a good person inside and out, so it's not just the basketball stuff we'll miss.''

NiJaCanadyHeights2NiJaree Canady, who has helped lead Topeka High to three straight Class 6A state tournament berths, has opted to bypass her senior basketball season to concentrate on her future in softball. [File photo/TSN]

Canady said she'll be one of the Trojans' biggest fans this winter.

"I expect to be at all the games and I still want to be a part of this family,'' Canady said. "Even when I was talking to the girls they were like, 'OK, we understand, but we're not breaking up with you or anything. We're still going to be here.'

"They're still my family and that's not going to change.''

Canady was the Centennial League basketball player of the year the past two seasons and averaged 20.6 points and 12.3 rebounds for the 23-2 Trojans last season.

Despite the loss of Canady, Alexander said the Trojans' expectations will continue to be high this season.

"We've got a lot of talented guards,'' Alexander said. "We're going to have to get a little nitty-gritty on getting those rebounds and things like that. We're going to have to play at a fast pace and we're going to have to do some things a little differently rather than pounding it inside.

"We're just going to have to adjust.''