The mystery that surrounds the cases against Ellis Lankster and J.T. Thomas III continues to evolve.
A preliminary hearing was delayed last week and has not been rescheduled in Monongalia County Magistrate Court. Magistrate Jim Nabors, who was scheduled to see Lankster and Thomas Sept. 10, is working nights this week and has no hearings scheduled. He returns to the office next week, when he’ll set a date for Lankster and Thomas.
Unless, of course, recent rumblings are true, which is where this story takes another turn.
Â Lankster and Thomas, who face felony charges of receiving and transferring stolen goods, reportedly are negotiating a plea agreement to a lesser charge and could return to the team soon.
Coach Rich Rodriguez suspended Lankster and Thomas on Aug. 21, two days after their arrest on charges that they were involved in the theft of a laptop computer and 32-inch flat screen TV from student rental housing where a party was being held.
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Speaking of mystery, the men’s basketball team could soon learn its opening round opponents in the Legends Classic.
“I think we might have the schedule here shortly,” said Mike Parsons, deputy director of athletics. â€œMaybe by the end of the week.”
A message left with the Gazelle Group, which promotes the Legends Classic and five other basketball tournaments, was not returned.
WVU committed to the Legends Classic early in the off season and released its schedule Sept. 5. In between, the Gazelle Group worked to complete its field, but WVU had two games with no opponents when it unveiled the schedule.
“It’s really up to the promoter and not up to us,” Parsons said. “There are and more tournaments out there and it’s more and more difficult to fill the fields.”
Parsons said the Gazelle Group is likely struggling to find teams at the mid-major and lower levels to participate in the event, which has a unique structure that, oddly enough, is designed to attract teams.
The eight-team tournament guarantees every team four games. WVU, Texas, Tennessee and New Mexico State will play host to two of the four unannounced teams between Nov. 14-18. WVU’s home games are Nov. 16 and 18.
All eight teams then travel to the Prudential Center, in Newark, N.J., for the championship rounds.
Regardless of what happens in the preliminary games, the four unannounced teams and the four host teams will play in their own tournaments. Four games will be played Nov. 23. Winners play winners and losers play losers the next day.