CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Let's play Connect Four. Or Five. Or Six.
Let's see how many notebook items I can connect in one column. It's sort of like Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Only it's me. And there's no Kyra Sedgwick around.
I enjoy it because, well, it's the state's premier basketball program. It's overflowing with the state's best talent, although most don't go on to play in the state.
Anyway, after slumping earlier in the year, the Irish picked up steam. Prep is now the nation's No. 12 team, according to the latest USA Today Super 25 poll. It is 18-4 after thumping Cleveland Central Catholic. It will play Cleveland Shaker Heights in the Dunk 4 Diabetes tournament Saturday in Canton, Ohio.
"We're playing really well," Fulford said Wednesday.
WVU "is still in play" with two of Prep's top prospects, Teki Gill-Caesar and JaQuan Lyle. The former is a long shot for the Mountaineers with Kentucky involved, as well as Michigan State. If Gill-Caesar stays a junior, rather than reclassify as a senior, add Duke and Kansas. The latter, Lyle, likes Kansas, WVU, Oklahoma State, Memphis, Florida State and Oregon. He recently said the list will be cut down soon.
"Both are focusing on finishing our season strong," Fulford said. "We'll dig down in the spring. Teki has to decide whether to graduate in 2014 or 2015. JaQuan wants to cut his list down. He likes the fact, though, that he could go to WVU and be a major contributor early."
The Mountaineers already have a commitment from 6-foot-10, 300-pound Irish center Levi Cook, a junior.
"He's doing well," Fulford said. "He just needs to understand what he needs to do at our level. He's got to bring it every day. Basically, he's backing up a pro."
That future "pro" is 6-10 Thomas Bryant, who is one of the nation's most highly regarded juniors.
You may know the Cyclones got off to a whirlwind start, winning their first 14 games, but have lost three in a row. What you might not know about is a bizarre situation in Ames.
Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg had a 6-foot-1 guard named Bubu Palo on the team. Well, the player was arrested on, but eventually dismissed of, charges of second-degree sexual assault.
Palo had been removed from the team, but seemed set to return after having his scholarship renewed over the summer for a final season. In August, though, ISU president Steven Leath removed Palo from the team after deciding the player had violated the school's code of conduct.
Last Thursday, though, a judge granted Palo a temporary stay to return to the basketball team. ISU athletic director Jamie Pollard countered by issuing a statement disagreeing with the decision.