Men's Basketball

Ex-UK recruit Ferguson says he's entering NBA Draft

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.

FIU hired former Louisville associate head coach Richard Pitino to replace Thomas last week, and when Pitino was introduced to the campus community, he acknowledged that staying at the school might 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 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.

"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.

Baylor's Miller declares, too

Baylor freshman standout Quincy Miller changed his mind and is declaring for early entry in the NBA Draft.

Bears Coach Scott Drew said Tuesday that Miller has decided to skip his final three seasons of eligibility. Miller said two weeks ago that he was staying at Baylor for his sophomore season.

Miller averaged 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds while starting 35 of 37 games.

UK-IU series in flux

Indiana Coach Tom Crean said Tuesday that the school's annual rivalry with Kentucky could end soon if the two schools can't agree on where to play the games.

From 1991-2005, the games were played at neutral sites in Indianapolis and Louisville. Then the games were moved back to campus.

Now the Wildcats, Crean said, don't want to play in Bloomington, where Christian Watford beat them with a buzzer-beating three-pointer in December. It was Kentucky's only regular-season loss.

"The Kentucky game is still being talked about, worked on, but it's not set in stone, because as many of you know, Kentucky doesn't want to play on our campus anymore, and that's certainly not our first choice," Crean said. "Keeping it on campus is without a doubt our first choice and always has been since I've been here."

Kentucky officials did not immediately respond to phone messages left by The Associated Press.

Coach Cal on parade

Kentucky Coach John Calipari and his coaching staff will serve as honorary grand marshals of the Republic Bank Derby Festival Pegasus Parade on Thursday, May 3. The coaches will have the team's national championship trophy with them during the festivities.

Around the nation

North Texas: Marquette assistant Tony Benford was hired to be North Texas' coach. Benford spent four years under Buzz Williams at Marquette and was associate head coach last season.

The former Texas Tech player replaces Johnny Jones, who left North Texas for the head coaching job at Louisiana State.

Bellarmine: Women's basketball coach David Smith stepped down Tuesday. Smith led the program for 14 years and was 249-156.