By Bryan Meler
Ryerson Rams’ Jean-Victor Mukama was named a U SPORTS second team All-Canadian on March 7 in Halifax at the annual Awards Gala.
The moment offered a short glimpse for Mukama to think about himself, which doesn’t happen too often.
“It means a lot,” says Mukama on his All-Canadian selection. “But we’re more of a team that focuses on sticking together than individual accolades. Still, it’s an honour, especially with it being my first time and it being my last year…It’s a great feeling.”
Mukama says that following the announcement, he received messages from former Rams teammates who’ve also been named All-Canadians in the past, such as Ammanuel Diressa and Adika Peter-McNeilly. Mukama says they all had a similar message: “Way to keep up the culture.”
Mukama, one of three Rams co-captains, is currently leading his team as they look to win gold at the 2019 U SPORTS Final 8.
“His spirit will be missed when his time is up,” said Rams head coach Roy Rana following their quarterfinal win on March 8.
Tanor Ngom, the Rams’ starting centre, said ahead of their playoff run that Mukama is a role model to him, someone that’s always looking to “pick his teammates up.”
But on the court, Mukama has been a nightmare for opposing defences. During the 2018-19 regular season, he put up team-highs with 18.4 points and 7.4 rebounds a game, while shooting a career-best 38.1 per cent from three -point distance.
“His spirit will be missed when his time is up”
Mukama’s 18.4 points was the seventh highest mark among players in Ontario University Athletics (OUA). The six-foot-eight guard also put up at least 20 points on 11 different occasions. In February, Mukama was named a first-team OUA all-star, after leading his squad to a 21-2 regular season record.
“[Mukama] is that guy who will make a block on one end, then make a huge shot on the other end of the court,” says Ngom.
Mukama credits his growth to his teammates, but especially Rana. Even when Mukama was torching defences, having arguably “the greatest first half in school history,” while “playing like the best player in the country,” Rana was looking for ways for Mukama to improve.
“Everytime I went to his office, it was like I was having the worst year ever” says Mukama. “Obviously he’d tell me I did good after a big game…But It’s just a testament of how he wants me to improve. He pushes me even harder than when I was in first year, knowing I want to go pro.”
Mukama joined the Rams in the 2013-14 season and took a year off in 2015-16 because of academic ineligibility. He made his way back, playing on an academic scholarship during the 2018-19 season.
It’s a story that the Rams have celebrated. But as they look to win their first national title at this weekend’s U SPORTS Final 8, they know that Mukama is also a rare talent, one of the likes they may never see again in the OUA.
“The thing about JV at six-foot-eight… with a seven-foot-two wingspan, you don’t get that at this level very often,” says Rana. “He’s very unique, because he can play 1-4, but he’s really a perimeter player
“It says a lot about his belief in this program… and his commitment and growth. He’s put in all the work.”