Coach: Mike Bargen, eighth season, 136-79
2013-14: 22-10, 7-5 East
Outlook: The Grizzlies have almost a brand-new roster, with only two returners off last year’s team in sophomore forwards Lamar Wofford and Reed Rowell. Wofford (6-foot-8) could become a star after some growing pains last year – the heralded recruit from Flossmoor, Ill., averaged 5 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.2 minutes.
Butler’s best player could be sophomore Kyle Steward, a 6-7 forward who transferred from Youngstown State. Steward, from Detroit, was a prep star at Cass Tech, averaging 14 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists his senior year.
Coach: Tommy DeSalme, sixth season, 116-57
2013-14: 15-16, 4-8 East
Outlook: DeSalme’s streak of four straight, 20-plus win seasons came to an end last year, after which he was fired without cause, then given his job back in a unanimous vote by the Cowley board of trustees.
The Tigers return one player with any real experience in 6-5 forward Austin Maxwell, a Sterling product who averaged 4.5 points and 3.2 rebounds.
Coach: Steve Eck, sixth season, 135-36
2013-14: 26-8, 9-5 West
Outlook: Injuries were the central culprit in the Blue Dragons’ falling short of expectations last season. At one point, Hutchinson had six healthy players available – but still had the NJCAA player of the year in current Arizona guard Kadeem Allen.
One player who dealt with injuries much of the year was 6-7 sophomore forward DeShawn Freeman, who missed 17 games but averaged 16.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists in the 17 games he did play and has offers from Arizona State, East Carolina and Tennessee. The Blue Dragons also bring 6-11 center Jabari Craig into the fold after Craig signed with Southern California but failed to qualify academically.
Coach: Mike Helmer, seventh season, 126-70
2013-14: 34-3, 12-0 East
Outlook: The Grizzlies manhandled the Jayhawk East in their one-year venture away from the West and took that momentum all the way to the NJCAA Division I Tournament quarterfinals.
Helmer went out and reloaded in the offseason, scoring three huge transfers – 5-8 guard Katie Palmer (Missouri State), 6-1 forward Sarah Parker (Northwestern Oklahoma State) and 5-9 guard Jurnee Reid (Northwestern Oklahoma State). Palmer and Reid are both Heights products.
As far as returners, the Grizzlies bring back 5-10 guard-forward Ashley Gibson, who averaged 12.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals on on the way to second-team All-Jayhawk East honors.
Coach: Todd Palmer, 11th season, 233-89
2013-14: 22-9, 8-4 East
Outlook: Clark brings in 11 freshmen to build around a solid nucleus of returners.
Guards Julie Raven (9.8 points) and Brylee New (3.5 points, 1.8 assists) are both back, along with 6-foot forward Erica Olerich, one of the better rebounders in the Jayhawk last season (6.9). Clark has indicated his biggest concern is getting Olerich some help in the post.
Coach: John Ontjes, eighth season, 221-25
2013-14: 35-1, 14-0 West
Outlook: Under Ontjes, the Blue Dragons have become one of the elite programs in the NJCAA. Hutchinson has three straight NJCAA Division I Final Four trips and two national runner-up finishes in that time, including last season’s title-game loss to Trinity Valley.
The preseason No. 2 team in the country, Hutchinson returns a bona fide star in 6-2 sophomore forward Kalani Purcell, a Hamilton, New Zealand, product. Purcell was an All-Jayhawk West pick last year, averaging 13.7 points and 10.3 rebounds, including three double-doubles in the NJCAA Division I Tournament.