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by Greg Talkington
(June 24) MORGANTOWN --West Virginia basketball coach Gale Catlett says he hopes to have a new assistant coach on campus by Aug. 1.
The Mountaineers have been without a lead assistant since April, when Mel Hankinson left Morgantown to take over the Liberty (Va.) University basketball program.
"We'll definitely have someone on board by the time school starts, but we'd prefer to have one here by Aug. 1," Catlett said. "We could have one sooner if things fall into place."
Catlett says he's interviewed nearly 50 candidates for the position and has pared that number down to "four-to-six."
He indicated a few more applicants will be interviewed during the next few weeks.
"I would have to say that this is one of the better pool of applicants we've had and I think that's a credit to our program," the veteran coach said.
"I think being in the Big East and getting to the Sweet 16 have a lot to do with that.
"We have a vast array of candidates from all sections of life."
Catlett indicated that replacing Hankinson got placed on the backburner due to the timing of his departure.
"I had to become more involved in the recruiting process and had less time to attend to filling the position when it first happened," Catlett said.
"But with the quality of applicants we have, I don't think this will hurt us.
"We've always taken our time in the past. We want to be sure we get the best person available, and we've had some very good ones here who have gone on and been successful."
An assistant coach isn't the only person Catlett would like to have in town by the time school starts.
"We're still recruiting and we're still looking at a lot of big men," Catlett said.
"I'd really like to have a big man on campus when school begins."
The status of prize recruit Calvin Bowman is uncertain.
Bowman, a 6-10 forward-center, hasn't graduated from junior college.
He is currently taking classes to obtain his degree in August.
"Right now, we can't count on him being here," Catlett said. "That's why I'd still like to recruit another big man."
While this year's recruiting class may not be finished, Catlett is already looking to next year. He, along with assistant Drew Catlett, will be on the road from July 8-July 31, evaluating high school talent.
"We're allowed to attend camps and watch kids we're recruiting play in summer leagues and such," Catlett said.
"That will be our last chance to evaluate them.
"You're allowed to have three coaches do this. If we don't have (a new assistant) by July 1, I'll petition to have (restricted earnings coach) Lester Rowe take on this responsibility."