FIU forward Ferguson says he's entering draft
By TIM REYNOLDS
MIAMI (AP) Florida International forward Dominique Ferguson announced Tuesday that he was entering the NBA draft, saying he's unhappy about the firing of Isiah Thomas and unable to get permission to talk to other schools.
Ferguson told The Associated Press that his request to be released from his scholarship was denied by Pete Garcia, the school's executive director of sports and entertainment. A subsequent appeal process that Ferguson said included a meeting with university President Mark Rosenberg also did not bring the release he sought.
The school had no immediate response to a request for comment.
"It's been very confusing," Ferguson said. "I'm getting through all this mess. It's a big mess going on right now."
In two seasons at FIU, the 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward averaged 8.0 points and 5.6 rebounds.
Several FIU players say they are considering transfers because of Thomas' firing. FIU hired former Louisville associate head coach Richard Pitino to replace Thomas last week, and when he was introduced to the campus community, Pitino acknowledged that staying at the school may not be "a good fit" for everyone on the roster he inherited.
Once considered a top-20 high school prospect, Ferguson originally committed to playing at Kentucky. He made a surprising change of heart after the Wildcats fired Billy Gillispie in 2009, turning down offers to play for some of college basketball's most storied programs. Kentucky still wanted him, as did major schools like Indiana and Louisville. Ferguson said he met both Cardinals coach Rick Pitino and Richard Pitino - a former assistant under his dad before taking over for Thomas - on the recruiting trail.
"I wanted to play for Isiah Thomas," Ferguson said.
And with that no longer an option, Ferguson wanted out of FIU.
Ferguson said he cited academic, family and basketball reasons for wanting to transfer to a school closer to home. A native of Indianapolis, Ferguson said he had seen his family five times in the past three years and that he told the appeals board he needed "a better support system."
"After much discussion with my family and support base we have decided to hire an agent and attempt to play professionally in the states or overseas," Ferguson wrote in a news release announcing the decision.
Ferguson said he submitted the paperwork Tuesday. Early entry candidates have until Sunday to make themselves eligible for the June 28 draft.
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Updated April 24, 2012