Missouri senior Keanau Post’s emergence is coming at a good time for the Tigers men’s basketball team.
Post wasn’t a factor in the Tigers’ first 12 games. But as SEC play begins, he has suddenly strung together the most productive two-game stretch of his Tigers career, averaging 9.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in wins against Lipscomb and LSU.
“I’m happy he had something good happen, because I think that’s what he needed … so he could gain confidence,” first-year MU coach Kim Anderson said.
Last Saturday, with Missouri struggling to handle Lipscomb’s hulking center, Chad Lang, a 6-foot-11 and 310-pound bruiser, Anderson turned to Post, who responded with a then-season-high seven points and a career-high 10 rebounds. This after Post was stuck on the bench for the previous two games.
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“I don’t want to say a last resort, but (Post is) a big body that could really help us,” Anderson said. “He went in and did well.”
Facing LSU’s talented frontcourt duo of sophomore Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin on Thursday, Post was called upon again for critical minutes in Missouri’s conference opener.
“He’s a great player,” sophomore forward Johnathan Williams III said. “A lot of people don’t know that, but he’s coming out of his shell a little bit more now and it’s starting to show.”
Post arrived at Missouri as a heralded player from Southwestern Illinois Community College, where he was a second-team junior college All-American, but he scored in double figures only once last season, a 14-point outing against conference doormat Mississippi State.
Including last season, Post — an athletic 6-foot-11 native of Victoria, British Columbia — averaged 1.6 points and 1.8 rebounds during his first 40 games with Missouri.
But Post wants to make the most of his dwindling time as a college basketball player.
“It’s my last year to play … so I want to try to play as hard as I can when I get out there,” Post said. “I just work hard in practice and let it follow through on the court.”
Before the season, Anderson talked up Post for his leadership and suggested he’d turned a corner toward becoming a productive player.
There was little evidence that Post had taken a step forward through the Tigers’ first 10 games when he averaged 2.0 points and 2.0 rebounds. He failed to score during a five-game stretch against Chaminade, Southeast Missouri, Oklahoma, Elon and Xavier.
Then came losses to Illinois and Oklahoma State in which Post never made it off the bench.
“The only reason he wasn’t playing was he wasn’t producing …” Anderson said. “He’s been one of the best practice guys. He’s one of the most enjoyable to work with. And I’m just happy for him, because he had a tough year last year and he’s had a tough go here early on. Now, he’s had some success.”
After his big game against Lipscomb, Post — who Anderson said didn’t complain and didn’t let his practice effort wane despite declining minutes — again answered the bell with a season-best 12 points and seven boards as MU stunned LSU in overtime.
Now, Missouri hopes for another sizable contribution as SEC play continues Saturday at Auburn.
“When he dunks, I just turn around and I’m like, ‘That’s my man,’” Williams said. “He’s growing over time. … He just continues to get better each and every day.”