By Lucas Barlow
As the postseason nears for the Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team, veteran players will have to step up as leaders to help get the Blue Dragons in top form for the regional and, maybe, the national tournament in March.
One of those players is sophomore guard Tiylar Cotton.
Cotton was a member of last year’s team that went 35-2 en route to the NJCAA national championship. One year later, he hopes to return to the championship game as a much more experienced and well-rounded player.
Born and raised in Wichita, Cotton attended Wichita North High School, where he was a 2016 graduate. He is one of the two current players on the Blue Dragon roster who hail from Kansas.
Cotton decided to play at HutchCC because he felt they had a great coaching staff, and indeed they do. Since head coach Steve Eck’s arrival in 2009, the Blue Dragons had amassed a 231-46 record prior to this season.
Cotton played in almost every game his freshman year, only absent in five games. He averaged 9.2 minutes per game, as he had to play behind Hutchinson all-time great guard Samajae Haynes-Jones, who now plays at Wichita State.
Throughout the year, Cotton posted solid totals for the amount of time he played. After his team won the national championship in 2017, Cotton listed it as one of his greatest accomplishments.
“Winning a national championship was an unreal feeling,” Cotton said. “We had been working all year for that, and when the time came, it seemed like a dream.”
This season is a bit different for Cotton. He now has doubled his minutes per game, and his role for the team has changed. The game against Pratt on Jan. 24 was his best game yet – he posted a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while also getting six assists.
With only four games left in the regular season, Cotton looks to stay focused
“My goals for the rest of the season are to just focus on winning the rest of our conference games,” Cotton said. “After that, then we can worry about regionals and nationals.”
The Blue Dragons are currently 21-4 (17-4 conf.) and ranked No. 14th in the country. They will next play Saturday at the Sports Arena against Cowley. It will also be the college’s annual Pink Out Night.