GREAT FALLS -- Basketball season is a little more than a month away, but the Providence men have to be considered among the favorites to win the Frontier Conference.
Thanks in part to an old face in a new place.
Zaccheus Darko-Kelly transferred to Providence from Montana Western when Steve Keller took the job with the Argos. But NAIA rules forced him to sit out the 2018-19 season.
“It was pretty tough,” Darko-Kelly said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had to sit out like that, but it was nice to have that extra year to get better and to get used to my surroundings.”
The Missoula Sentinel product was the Frontier Conference freshman of the year in 2016-17 and a first-team all-conference and second-team all-American as a sophomore. Now a junior, Darko-Kelly believes he gained some valuable perspective watching from the bench.
“I got to sit next to coach Keller, coach JC (Isakson) and coach (Mike) McLean the whole year,” he said. “Learned stuff from that experience. Learned how to not get taken out of the game, learned a lot just seeing it from a different angle.”
Darko-Kelly is actually a Great Falls native, growing up in the Electric City until seventh grade when he moved to Missoula.
“It was cool,” he said. “My mom and my brother get to watch me play, and my grandparents are much closer. I have a lot of old friends here, too.”
And Darko-Kelly plays with a chip on his shoulder. The 6-foot-6 forward plays in the NAIA but is considered by many to be a Division I talent. He didn’t get recruited by many bigger schools out of high school, so he aims to make a statement every game.
“I didn’t get recruited a lot,” he said. “I try to go out and prove to other teams that maybe they should have taken a chance on me like coach Keller did. I play with that chip.”