Mitch Vingle: Multiple basketball connections to West Virginia

SAM OWENS | Gazette-Mail
Fairmont State coach Jerrod Calhoun yells at his team from the sideline during the Mountain East Conference tournament.

West Virginians pride themselves on connections.

Kevin Bacon may have six degrees of separation from many. But we can connect dots from Poca and West Virginia to almost anywhere. Try us.

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Youngstown, Ohio — As you might know, former WVU assistant and Fairmont State head coach Jerrod Calhoun is now the head coach of the Youngstown State Penguins basketball team.

Yet that’s amateur connecting. We can do so to Charleston. See, Calhoun has hired Jason Slay as an assistant. The Beckley native and four-year starter at West Virginia State assisted Bryan Poore in Institute as associate head coach before moving to Hargrave Military Academy, East Tennessee and VMI.

More? OK. Calhoun also hired Mark Richmond as his director of basketball operations. Before Richmond moved to Fordham and ETSU, he was an assistant to former University of Charleston coach Mark Downey. And before that, he was a student assistant to WVU’s Bob Huggins. And before that, he was a manager in Morgantown for John Beilein.

That’s serious connecting.

Mississippi — On Wednesday night, it was announced that ex-Memphis basketball player Markel Crawford is officially transferring to Ole Miss. In case you haven’t followed, Memphis coach Tubby Smith has lost six still-eligible players of late, including the standout brother duo of Dedric and K.J. Lawson. The mass exodus has blown a huge hole into the bow of the U.S.S. Tiger.

The connection is WVU’s staff had received much interest from Crawford. The problem is the Mountaineer roster is packed. There simply was no room at the inn unless Crawford wished to wait for unforeseen developments. He ultimately did not.

Tennessee — In my Wednesday column I went over the Mountaineer hoops roster and touched upon potential 2018 targets. Well, one of them is Taelyr Gatlin, a point guard playing at Brighton High outside of Memphis.

And guess what? Gatlin and his father Stan, who coaches Brighton, have family in West By God.

“My aunt and uncle, Keith and Gloria Gilmore, live in Morgantown,” said the father on Thursday.

WVU hasn’t offered the guard, according to the father, but the staff is certainly watching. Some have tabbed Taelyr, who plays AAU ball for Team Penny, as the best 2018 prospect in the Memphis area.

“He’s a 6-foot-3 pass-first point guard,” said the father/coach. “He deceivingly averaged 17.8 points and 5.5 assists last season.”

Akron — Remember Rob Fulford? The former three-sport Mullens High athlete who went to Marshall and then coached Huntington Prep for five seasons?

According to his Twitter account on Thursday, he’s now an assistant to John Groce, the new head basketball coach at the University of Akron.

I know, I know. He moved from Huntington Prep to Missouri. And yes, there’s much excitement around the Mizzou program.

In case you’ve missed it, the nation’s supposedly No. 1 basketball recruit, Michael Porter Jr., was set to join Washington’s Lorenzo Romar, who had Michael Porter Sr. on his staff.

Washington, however, amazingly chose this year to fire Romar and both Porters bolted for Missouri, now coached by Cuonzo Martin. The Tigers are in line to land one of the nation’s top classes.

Fulford, however, is not a part of that. When former head coach Kim Anderson was fired, Fulford stayed temporarily, but is now out. His landing spot is Akron.

So there you are. Another edition of connections, West Virginia style.

Contact Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827 or mitchvingle@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @MitchVingle.

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