State Colleges

Familiar faces out front in Jayhawk

The number two rang true for the Hutchinson Community College men's basketball team at Jayhawk Conference media day Monday in Wichita.

As in the Blue Dragons and new coach Steve Eck were picked to finish second in the Jayhawk West.

As in the number of players whose absence from the Hutchinson roster raises questions about exactly how far Eck's new team will be able to rise without them.

Both Robert Goff and Jawanza Poland — Division I recruits who played for Eck at Cowley last season and transferred to Hutchinson — were not granted their releases to play from Cowley and will redshirt this year.

Goff, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward, averaged 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds last season and has offers from Cincinatti and Indiana State, among others.

Wichita East product Poland, 6-4, averaged 13.7 points and was the Jayhawk East freshman of the year and a second-team all-league selection for Cowley.

Former Cowley players Adonis Gantt, Cortez Barnes and Garrius Holloman were all granted their releases and will play this season.

" (Goff and Poland) are redshirting," Eck said. "Other than that, no comment."

Eck's backcourt this season could be a reunion for former Wichita Southeast stars Gantt and freshman Joe Mitchell.

"Joe's not just a straight point guard," Eck said. "He's a good shooter from the outside."

Garden City, the defending men's Region VI champion, was picked third in the west. Butler was picked to finish fifth.

In the east, Cowley and new coach Tommy DeSalme were picked to finish second. Just two players — Caprest Rhone and Wichita South product Lance Russell — remain from last year's roster.

"With the transfer situation and me moving from one team to another in the same league, I knew going in that it was going to be a tough transition," said DeSalme, who came to Cowley from Independence. "But we had to think about not only what was important for the basketball team, but for the school itself. And I think we did a good job at that."

On the women's side, defending Region VI champion Hutchinson was picked to win the west and returns Maize product Heather Robben, who averaged 14.7 points and 6 rebounds per game last season on her way to honorable mention All-American honors.

Robben turned down a scholarship offer from Texas Christian to return for her sophomore season.

"I think, in her mind, she still has some things to prove," Hutchinson coach John Ontjes said. "We've always been able to motivate our teams in the past on being the underdog. Now, we know it's different."

The Butler women were picked to finish fourth in the west. Labette was picked to win the east, and Cowley was picked fourth.

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