GREAT FALLS — The University of Providence basketball squads are reloaded and ecstatic about the 2023-2024 season. With new faces all around on both teams, the Argos are looking to capture Frontier Conference titles and NAIA national tournament berths.
On the women’s side, Bill Himmelberg will lead the team for his 14th season. His squad fell short in the conference tournament last season, losing in the semifinals. But this years squad has been picked to finish second in the preseason coaches poll with new additions and preseason all-conference team forward Maddy Dixon.
“Excited about the season, excited about the girls, love our team. We had one of our better recruiting classes so really excited to see what we can do,” said Himmelberg.
In that recruiting class are three freshman who he believes will have an immediate impact on the team:
Monique Carter from Pullman, Washington, averaged 12 points, five assist, four rebounds and was named defensive player of the year for the Emerald City Jaguars. Taliah Lee attended Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, Washington, where she averaged double digit points in her career and was an honorable mention all-conference selection. Keanna Salave’a out of Vancouver, Washington, was an all-conference selection all four years of her high school career and was named to the all-region first team during her junior and senior years.
In addition to the talented freshman class, the Argos have added NCAA Division I transfer Ashlee Maldonado. Maldonado is a grad transfer from Santa Clara University where she started 41 of the 70 games she appeared in and ranked 11th in the country for assist-to-turnover ratio during her last season. She has also been listed on the preseason all-conference team.
“I think it’s going well. I think just kind of having experience and bringing these younger girls together has been a big thing of mine, being a leader for them,” said Maldonado. “We have a lot of freshman coming in, we have a lot of older girls coming in, and so I think that having myself is a good addition but overall I think our team effort is really well.”
Maldonado's sister, Emilee, played at Providence from 2017-2021 and has joined the program as an assistant coach. Emilee Maldonado is replacing last year's assistant, J.C. Isakson who is now the head coach of the Providence men's team.
Isakson is taking over an Argo team that is coming off a conference championship appearance and will be looking to take the next steps in bringing back a title to Great Falls. Isakson is replacing a legend in former coach Steve Keller, a hall of famer who retired at the end of last season.
“We’re just focusing on one game at a time,” said Isakson. “We’re just really trying to adopt the mindset that it’s us versus us every single game and make sure we’re focused on being the best version of ourselves.”
They are returning twelve of the fifteen players from last years roster, including Davion Harris-Willaims on the preseason all-conference team, and added four transfers. Jaylin Reed, Freddy Brown III, Jamil Bowles, and Jevon Burton have all played at a high college level, according to Isakson, and will bring great experience and talent to an already deep Argo squad.
The men’s team will have the first taste of action as they host Corban University on Friday at 2 p.m. The women face Indiana Wesleyan on Saturday at 2.