By Lucas Barlow
Sports Editor

The Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team is once again a top-tier

team in the country, as the Blue Dragons are ranked No. 23. They are currently 22-5

overall and 18-5 in the Jayhawk Conference.

Head coach John Ontjes has put together another solid team by bringing in some quality freshmen – four of whom are from Kansas, including three from small western Kansas communities.

Jada Mickens, who is a great all-round player that can light-up the stat column, is one of those stand-out freshmen from Kansas.

Mickens grew up in Liberal, which is about three hours southwest of Hutchinson, on the Oklahoma doorstep.

She followed the footsteps of her family by playing multiple sports, splitting her time between

volleyball and basketball. As a volleyball player, she received many awards including all-

tournament team recognition, most improved player, and most valuable player. However, after

HutchCC contacted Mickens, her interest in collegiate basketball spiked.

“I didn’t realize how good the school was at basketball, so it was perfect that I had an offer,” Mickens said. “I didn’t have that many other offers, but Hutchinson has been a great blessing, and I’m happy this is the route I chose.”

Playing in the Western Athletic Conference during high school was a challenge for

Mickens, as it featured some of the best teams in Kansas. Although it helped make the

transition into college basketball easier, it didn’t prepare her for the height of the other players.

“In high school, I was taller than a majority of the teams we played against, but playing at the

college level is a whole new world, and I’m small in this one,” Mickens said.

Mickens also stated the speed of the game was faster, and the addition of a shot clock made things different. However, Mickens seems to have adapted fairly well to the college speed as she currently leads the Blue Dragons in multiple stats, including points per game (14.2), field goal percentage (50.7), and minutes per game (30.8) are all held by her.

Mickens also attributes her smooth transition to her fellow Kansas teammates, some of which she knows well.

“Playing next to some Kansas players has actually made this whole experience a lot easier to handle,” Mickens said. “Sara Cramer (Dighton), Tia Bradshaw (Dodge City), and Briana

Bradshaw (Dodge City), are three girls that I had played with on a traveling team, so we know each other pretty well. Also the Bradshaw sisters played at Dodge City High School, which was in the Western Athletic Conference, so we’ve played against each other before.”

For the Blue Dragons, the regular season is just about over and Mickens hopes to end on a high note.

“We have potential to do something great and I know we can do it,” Mickens said. “We have to bring it more than ever now than at the beginning of the season, it matters a lot more now and we can do it. Stay tuned to the Lady Dragons because we’re onto something big.”

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