The Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team will open the new season ranked No. 13 in the preseason NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Poll, which was released on Thursday.
After a one-year absence from the preseason poll, the Blue Dragons return this season. Two seasons ago, HCC opened the season ranked No. 4 in the NJCAA. It’s the second time in head coach Steve Eck’s four seasons that the Blue Dragons are ranked in the preseason NJCAA poll.
Eck returns one starter and four letter winners from last season’s team that went 25-7, finished second in the Jayhawk West and advanced to the Region VI quarterfinals.
Sophomore forward Alex Davis has already committed to Fresno State. The 6-foot-9, 200-pound forward from Houston averaged 11.1 points and 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots last season. He shot 54.7 percent from the field, but often had foul trouble to contend with. Eck will have some experienced guards to build round this season. Rozell Nunn is a 6-3, 200-pound guard from Kansas City, Kan., who averaged 6.3 points and shot 32.4 percent from the field. A.J. Spencer had a solid freshman season working until an injury slowed his progress last season. He is a 5-2, 195-pound guard from Shawnee, Kan., who averaged 7.9 points. Jack Pyle is a 6-2, 170-pound sophomore from McPherson who averaged 5.8 points per game last season.
Hutchinson was picked to finish second in the Jayhawk West this season. The team picked about HCC in the conference poll – defending Region VI champion Seward County – is the highest-ranked Jayhawk Conference team in the poll at No. 9. Jayhawk East power Coffeyville is ranked No. 19 to start the season.
The two teams that met for the NJCAA national championship at the Sports Arena last season starts Nos. 1 and 2 in the preseason poll. Defending national champion South Plains College is No. 1, while Northwest Florida State College is No. 2. Howard College is No. 3, followed by Chipola College and Indian Hills Community College.
The Blue Dragons will open a very tough non-conference schedule next Thursday night with the season-opening Quarterback Classic. Hutchinson plays Allen Community College on Nov. 2, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (NEO) on Nov. 3 and Mesa Community College on Nov. 4. All games begin at 7:30 p.m.
Hutchinson's final preseason scrimmage will be at 4 p.m. on Friday at Newman University in Wichita.
(HCC Sports Information)
2012-13 NJCAA DIVISION I MEN’S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL
1. South Plains College 36-0
2. Northwest Florida State College 32-2
3. Howard College 23-8
4. Chipola College 23-7
5. Indian Hills CC 33-4
6. Vincennes University 28-3
7. College of Southern Idaho 31-5
8. East Mississippi CC 23-6
9. Seward County CC 31-7
10. Navarro College 25-11
11. Casper College 25-9
12. Monroe College 33-4
13. Hutchinson CC 25-7
14. Trinity Valley CC 21-10
15. Palm Beach State College 26-5
16. Spartanburg Methodist College 29-7
17. Shelton State CC 28-4
18. Gordon State College 26-9
19. Coffeyville CC 28-4
20. Iowa Western CC 24-9
21. Otero Junior College 30-6
22. Mississippi Gulf Coast CC 23-5
23. Odessa College 23-8
24. North Idaho College 24-8
25. Highland CC (Ill.) 26-8
(Records are 2011-12 final record)