BILLINGS — Zharon Richmond's journey as a member of the Montana State Billings men's basketball team has been anything but smooth.
Richmond, a 2017 Billings Skyview graduate, finished off the 2019-20 season averaging more than 15 points and seven rebounds per game, but the COVID-19 pandemic made the academic portion of student-athlete life difficult.
“Just the COVID thing opened up and helped me see I was struggling with something inside my mind and I didn't really know it, so I covered it up," Richmond told MTN Sports. "After COVID happened I failed some of my classes. I had this almost dark cloud over me, and I was like, 'Is this because of school?'"
It wasn’t long after that Richmond was no longer in Billings, as he spent some time in Oklahoma working with his father. It’s there that he had a new spark for both school and basketball.
“It was during that time that I got into counseling and I learned more," Richmond said. "I focused on getting myself healthier — my mind. I got in that mindset to get back and ready for school. That spring semester I took 18 credits and passed all of those. I had to take six in the summer, because I had to take 24 by the fall to be eligible. I got all 24 of those credits and got eligible for last season."
Things were trending up for the 2022-23 season for Richmond, but just days before the team’s annual alumni game, disaster struck when he tore the ACL in his left knee.
“It's just hard, especially because I didn't play for two years before that. I was getting so ready — I got my school back in order. I got my mind right, then boom, ACL was torn," Richmond said. "It was more I had to get over the why me? Why did I have to get hurt after I worked so hard? It was kind of like what do you want to do? I wanted to play basketball, so that was a motivator."
Richmond is now an MSUB graduate and decided to run it back for the Jackets this winter, and in doing so he’s become a 1,000-point career scorer, is the program’s all-time leading shot blocker and is an integral part of GNAC-leading MSUB.