VIU hopes scorer will be a star

Justin King, a new swingman for Vancouver Island University’s men’s basketball team, arrived in town this month.

Justin King is expected to be a top scorer and rebounder with the Vancouver Island University Mariners in the 2014-15 season.

Justin King is expected to be a top scorer and rebounder with the Vancouver Island University Mariners in the 2014-15 season.

The VIU Mariners needed some star power, and were able to add it.

Justin King, a new swingman for Vancouver Island University’s men’s basketball team, arrived in town this month as the squad looks toward the 2014-15 season.

Big things are expected from the newcomer from Las Vegas after he was recruited by VIU coach Matt Kuzminski this past winter.

“He was looking to get another star player to come in and start scoring,” said King.

The M’s knew they needed change with all-star guard Brandon Jones moving on.

“We [had] a huge scoring void with Brandon gone, that was 20 points a game,” Kuzminski said. “King will be a different player, but I think he’ll be able to step in and really give teams a tough time.”

Two seasons ago King, playing with Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, led the CIS Canada West in scoring with 23.1 points per game and was third in rebounding with 10.1 per game.

“My journey was to go pro, but some things didn’t work out for me,” he said.

So King found himself sidelined. He continued to work out and shoot hoops, but without a direction.

“It was really tough,” he said. “There was a point in time when I couldn’t even watch the game on TV, I was missing the game so much.”

So Kuzminski’s interest was reciprocated right away.

“He sent me a picture of the ring that they won a couple of years ago. Man, I was pumped,” said King. “It looks like a good opportunity for me to finish school, possibly get a championship, some more accolades.”

The Mariners coach said the new addition will fit in well.

“With our kind of offence, you have to be able to do a bit of everything and that’s exactly what he [does],” Kuzminski said.

King can score a lot of different ways. He likes the mid-range jumpers, and likes to drive and attack the basket early in games to get to the free-throw line and open up the court that way. He’ll also be asked to guard some of the other teams’ best players.

“I’m looking forward to all those things,” he said. “I love playing D, I love rebounding and I love to score, obviously. [Coach] told me I’m going to have to come up here and do all those things. It’s hard work on my end, but those are things that I want to do.”

King will take things a year at a time, but the 24-year-old could potentially play two years at VIU, studying phys-ed with an eye to teaching and coaching.

The area is beautiful, he said, and his teammates have been welcoming. Even with basketball season months away, all the Mariners are running hard. King can already tell the M’s will be a force in the league, and he can’t wait for tipoff.

“Oh my goodness, I’m very excited to get out here and just play,” he said.” And then the expectations of a national championship makes me even more excited.”

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