By Sam Ojeda / Sports Editor

Young players have been the story for Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team.

The 17-11 Blue Dragons have leaned heavily on the production of freshman talent to help them find success this season. There are only two players on the roster that are sophomores – guards Jayden Garrison and Trey McClure. Eight of the nine main rotation players are freshmen, and arguably the team’s star, Aaron Franklin, is a redshirt freshman.

Frequent starter and freshman guard Kernan Bundy said he understands the challenges of being a freshman in college sports. Being out there on the court inexperienced has its benefits and its comparable drawbacks.

“When we are out there on the court, we are full of energy,” Bundy said. “We are young and full of that energy so we show up motivated everyday.”

Being a young player is not all fun and games. Experience plays in college sports, even at community colleges.

“We do not have much experience,” Bundy said. “Without experience, we lack an edge that the rest of the teams we play have.”

This lack of experience has affected games for them. Many games have been decided by a single play or a clutch free throw. The lack of experience has put them behind the proverbial eight ball and ending with a loss.

A game against Pratt in January went into overtime because HutchCC could not make last-minute free throws and that led to a loss.

Leadership is what can right the ship for a team lacking maturity. Freshman do not often step up but with this team, it is necessary,

“All of us had to step up and take ownership for ourselves,” Bundy said. “We had to take accountability. It helped us all grow in maturity as players on, and off the court.”

Being a freshman in college sports is nerve racking and that adjustment takes time. Bundy, who is from Overland Park, has learned how to control his emotions well.

“My built up emotion and nerves is all about how excited I am to play basketball,” Bundy said. “One way I use to cool my emotions is to remind myself of all the hard work I put in. I worked to belong on the court as much as anyone else.”

Nerves are hard to simmer down but Bundy has advised his teammates to remember why they play and who they do it for.

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