For basketball fans in Greater Victoria, all eyes are on the UVic Vikes final homestand this weekend.
But far, far away from UVic’s McKinnon gym, a player who once trained there is turning heads with the Bishop’s Gaiters in the CIS.
Former Oak Bay Bays guard Mukiya Post had hoped to one day wear the blue and gold for the Vikes. It wasn’t to be. But Post didn’t give up on playing in the CIS. After two hard-earned years in college, Post is in his first year of CIS basketball and made his fourth consecutive start with the Gaiters (3-9) on Saturday.
“There were times I was working hard the last few years, and I felt the results weren’t showing. There were some hard obstacles,” said Post, in a telephone call from Lennoxville, Que., last week.
“Where I’m at now, I can say, it inspires me more to work harder now, because I’m seeing what I’ve done in the past, my work has paid off.”
The 6-foot-4 shooting guard started this season watching the first eight games from the bench, in which the team won once.
His team is still last in Quebec’s five-team conference, and has a tough task ahead if they’re going to make the post-season. But the Gaiters are on a roll now, and Post is a big part of it. The team won back-to-back games for the first time last weekend.
On Friday, Post scored 13 points in the Gaiters’ 78-75 win over the first-place Concordia Stingers. It was the Gaiters’ first win at Concordia (10-2) since 2006, and it bumped the Stingers’ national ranking back to 10th in the country, four behind the Vikes. On Saturday, Post led the team with 16 points in its 72-57 win over the University of Quebec at Montreal (6-7).
What’s more, Post has the highest free-throw percentage in the CIS, making 94 per cent of his shots from the foul line (34-for-36).
It should come as no surprise the same kid who first and foremost praises his mom for her support and inspiration also wants to put his team first.
“I feel like we’re able to accomplish more,” Post said. “We’ve lost a lot of two and three point games this year. We’re only two points back of Laval (4-8). Every game from now on is a must win for us to make the playoffs.”
The road ahead only gets better for Post, a history major with two more years of CIS eligibility after this one.
It’s how Post got to this point that bears modeling for other players. By the time Post graduated from Oak Bay High in 2009, he had accepted the CIS wasn’t an option.
“Out of high school I wasn’t ready for the CIS and a lot of times I experienced disappointment with my game.”
But Post was determined and he had a plan: to play for the Champlain College Cavaliers in St. Lambert, across the river from Montreal.
“My first year I wanted to go to Champlain. I’d heard it was a good place to develop and had moved a lot of guys to the CIS.”
Post credited Oak Bay principal David Thomson in helping. Problem was, Post thought Champlain was going to be more expensive than he could afford. Instead he happily took a scholarship to study and play in B.C.’s PacWest collegiate conference with the Quest University Kermodes (Squamish).
While there, Post learned that Champlain was going to cost far less than he thought, and that they were still interested in him. He made the jump, and it paid off fast.
“Gaiters’ coach Rod Gilpin approached me after he saw me play in the (Quebec collegiate) provincials with Champlain,” Post said.
“I came for a visit to Sherbrooke and agreed.”
Back in October, the Gaiters defeated the Vikes during the House-Laughton Hoops Classic preseason tournament in Ottawa. Post scored eight points off the bench, a “surreal moment” playing against former Bays teammate Reese Pribilsky.
“During Grades 9 and 10 I watched the Vikes. (High school) summers I’d stop by and watch them scrimmage. I knew their players and looked up to their players,” Post said. “Playing against them was like, ‘I’m here playing in the CIS.’”
Mukiya’s “little” brother, Keanau, is in his first year of junior college with Southwestern Illinois, near St. Louis. At 6-foot-11, 270 lbs., Keanau, also a former Oak Bay player, is considered an NCAA prospect.
Did you know?
The Shoot for the Cure event, which is being held at UVic today, was the brainchild of Rod Gilpin. The former coach of the Bishop’s women’s team is in his fourth season as head coach of the men’s Gaiters.