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LOUDONVILLE. When Jordan Kellier stepped off a plane in Jamaica in May, it had been seven long years since the Siena men’s basketball team forward had last set foot on home soil.

His first stop?

“I got my KFC,” Kellier said on Thursday.. “KFC in Jamaica is like Chick-Fil-A here in America. It’s really good there. I have KFC, dried chicken and real coconut water.”

By satisfying this craving, Kellier fulfilled the true purpose of the trip—a long overdue reunion with his family.

The moment, for the Portmore, Jamaica native, was captured in a video that was posted to Siena men’s basketball social media. Kellier knocked on the door of his family home and, trying to increase his surprise, tried to mask his voice.

It worked – for the most part.

While several members of his family were at first confused as to who was ringing at their door, a voice quickly rang out that knew exactly who was knocking.

“That was my little sister,” said Kellier, who has five siblings. “She must have recognized my voice. I tried changing my voice and apparently it didn’t work. She’s like, “Wait, Jordan?” and my mom said no. Then I guessed they looked out the window, something like that, and said, “Oh wait, it’s Jordan.”

Then the door swung open and emotions surged as Kellier’s long odyssey finally brought him back to his family.

“It was a blessed situation,” said Kellier, who is now back on the Siena campus and participating in Saints summer training.. “The opportunity to see your family — mom, dad, sisters — and be back in this culture, experience this family love. . . . Seven years seems to take a toll on your mind. Being around them again was just a blessing and I accepted it.

“Before leaving, I gave them a lot of trouble, a lot of problems. To come back and just be able to touch them, to be around them, was just a blessing.”

Kellier has not returned to Jamaica since 2015, when, as a high school student, he enrolled at Redemption Christian Academy in Troy.

From Redemption Christian, Kellier then made his way to junior college at Williston State College in North Dakota, where he averaged 17.4 points and 8.6 rebounds as a freshman in 2019-20. This earned him a Division I berth at the University of Utah, where he played in seven games in the 2020-21 season.

Then, in May 2021, the 6-foot-6 forward returned to the Capital Region when he moved to Siena, where he averaged 3.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game in 22 games for the Saints last season.

After all this, Kellier finally has a month to reunite with his family.

“When you haven’t been home for seven years, at some point you sort of forget where you come from,” he said. “Being in America for a long time, they can say that you are Americanizing. When you are away from home, you may lose this vision along the way. The return gave me a refreshment. You understand that you are here for a reason – not only for me, but also for the sake of my house.

During his 30-day stay in Jamaica, Kellier also had the opportunity to meet and talk with the country’s most famous athlete, eight-time Olympic champion and world record holder in the 100 and 200 meters, Usain Bolt.

“He gave me some good advice, some great recommendations as I move into my senior year of college,” Kellier said.

Kellier also took the time to buy a few souvenirs for members of his extended Siena family – though not as many as he’d like.

“I tried,” he said, “but there wasn’t enough space in my suitcase.”

“Now I have a mug of Bob Marley in the office,” said Siena head coach Carmen Masiariello, “and he gave my wife a glass and a purse.”

Back in the US, Kellier is excited about his senior season with the Saints, and Masiariello said he saw a new sense of energy in the striker, who with Siena’s revamped 2022-23 roster is likely to get more chances to play. in his more natural forward position this season rather than his smallball center role.

“He hasn’t been home in Jamaica for seven years,” Machiariello said. “And now he’s back. I think it rejuvenates you when you see some family you haven’t seen and hug your mom [that] it’s something special.”

NEWS AND NOTES

The day before the media takes the men’s off-season on Thursday, Siena has unveiled its official roster for the 2022-23 season. That list does not include graduate student Anthony Gaines, who will not play for the Saints this coming season but will remain on a scholarship and continue to rehabilitate at Siena the knee he injured at the end of last season.

“Anthony is getting a scholarship, he will finish his studies and we will find him a professional job,” Machiariello said. “The purpose of him coming here from the Northwest was to showcase his ability to play basketball and then take him to the next stage in his career.”

Gaines, who worked out at the Siena gym on Thursday before the team’s players entered, was selected as a third-team All-MAAC last season. He tore his ACL in his right knee in the final game of the Siena regular season finals at Canisius and underwent surgery to repair the injury in late April.

Siena’s injury list was long towards the end of the 2021–22 season, which ended with a 15–14 record and a quarter-final loss to MAAC. These players included Jared Billups (wrist), Jace Johnson (elbow), Thailand Owens (knee) and Andrew Platek (Achilles tendon), and each is in a different stage of recovery.

Machiariello said Johnson is “totally ready” while Platek is moving closer to that status and could get full clearance as early as Monday. Owens has made “great progress. . . but he didn’t get back on the court,” while Billups said he was on track to “begin playing in two to three weeks.”

Siena has a summer trip to Italy for a series of exhibition games starting in mid-August. Most of the team’s players returned to campus on May 31 to begin summer training. The Saints’ current training session will run until the end of June, after which the team will return to campus on July 31 to begin preparations for an August 18-28 trip to Italy.

Gazette Sports editor Michael Kelly contributed to this report.

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