Eager to move back to Western Kansas and armed with knowledge from three previous coaching stops, Alex Hutchins is ready to lead the Hays High girls basketball team.
Hutchins, a Scott City native who coached last year in Elizabeth, Colo., has been tabbed to replace Kirk Maska, who resigned after nine seasons with the Indians.
"I'm a Western Kansas kid at heart," Hutchins said in a phone interview with The Hays Daily News. "My parents still live in Scott City and both of my brothers are attending college there at Fort Hays State. The opportunity to be close to family was by far the most attractive part of the job."
Shortly after graduating from Kansas State, Hutchins spent a year as head girls basketball coach at Minneapolis. He then served as an assistant coach at Scott City for two seasons before taking the job in Colorado.
"He is a very personable young man," Hays High athletic director Chris Michaelis said. "All of his references spoke very highly of him."
At Scott City, Hutchins played for Glenn O'Neil and was later an assistant for one season under O'Neil, who coached the Beavers' boys basketball team to five state championships and led the school to a state football championship in 2012. O'Neil is currently the football coach at Topeka Seaman.
"I would say most of what I learned from him was as a player, and then it was kind of fun as a coach seeing things from the other perspective," Hutchins said. "One thing I learned from him was just the importance of competition and consistently coming to practice every day ready to fight for everything and to get better every single day."
Hutchins said he wants the Indians' style of play to flexible.
"Ideally, we'd like to get out and pressure people and play up-tempo and try to score in transition as much as we can," he said. "But there will be nights where we're playing a team where maybe that's not the best course of action to get that win. We'd like to be a team that can adjust on the fly and play whatever style we need to."
Hutchins, who will also be an assistant football coach at Hays High, will inherit a team that went 13-8 last season.
"We have some returning talent that is athletic and skilled," Hutchins said. "Obviously I kind of have to get my eyes on them and see what we think in person, but from what I've gathered so far, it does seem like playing up-tempo and pressuring people will fit the mold."
Hutchins is hoping to make it to Hays by the end of this week or next week to meet with the team.
"I am excited to meet the girls," he said. "The big thing is getting to know them and getting to know where their comfort zones are and what we need to do to help them excel."