By The Collegian staff
The Hutchinson Community College basketball teams were picked to win the Jayhawk West championship by the league’s coaches.
The preseason poll was released Tuesday afternoon.
The men were picked first a year after finishing third, five games behind runaway conference champ Colby. Josh Baker is the Blue Dragons’ top returner after averaged 13.7 points a game last season.
Dodge City was picked second, followed by Colby, Seward County, Barton, Garden City, Pratt and Northwest Kansas Tech.
Coffeyville was picked to win the Jayhawk East.
The Blue Dragon women were picked to repeat as conference champs. The Blue Dragons won the conference with a 19-2 record, edging Seward County by one game in a thrilling conference race. Pratt and Barton were a distant third, seven games behind Seward County.
The women will have a young team, but will return guard Tor’e Alford. The Derby native overcame injury her freshman year to average 11.6 points a game.
Also back is 6-foot, 5-inch Nafatoumata Haidara, who averaged 7.5 points and one blocked shot per game.
Seward County was picked second, ahead of Barton, Dodge City, Colby, Garden City, Pratt and Northwest Kansas Tech.
Butler was picked to win the Jayhawk East.
The women’s season will start Jan. 16 vs. Labette, while the men will open Jan. 12 at Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa.