He's not new Florida International coach Isiah Thomas' first recruit -- that dubious honor belongs to the very brave guard Phil Taylor of Marietta -- but Dominique Ferguson is a much bigger catch than anyone was expecting out of the disgraced former Knicks coach.
Ferguson, a 6'8", 210-pound power forward from Lawrence, Indiana, verbally committed to the Golden Panthers today after an unofficial visit (probably to make sure those cheerleaders got reinstated). He plans to sign a letter of intent in November and join Thomas in Miami after a year at Hargrave Military Academy, a prep school.
Ferguson's commitment came out of left field -- way, way out of left field. He was originally pledged to Kentucky, but decommitted in April after a coaching change. Schools rumored to be in the race for his services were Arizona, Florida, Duke, Connecticut, Tennessee and Alabama; no one saw Florida International and first-year collegiate coach Thomas sneak in the back door.
"I had kind of forgotten he was coaching there," Ferguson told ESPN. "Then when we talked on the phone after they were allowed to make phone calls. Coach Thomas, his entire staff, the city, it was an easy choice for me."
Perhaps it shouldn't have been that easy. Ferguson cited "Coach Thomas' past success in the NBA as a player and coach" as his main reason for choosing FIU. If by "past success as a coach" be means "being run out of New York after leaving a storied franchise in shambles and costing the Knicks millions in a sexual harassment suit," then we suppose he knows what he's talking about.
At any rate, even a sub par summer on the circuit hasn't seen Ferguson slide too far down the rankings. ESPN ranks him no. 8 overall in the nation, Scout lists him at no. 9 overall and the no. 5 forward, and Rivals has slapped the magic number 23 on him.
Not bad, Mr. Thomas. Not bad at all. We supposed we'll have to keep an on you, and not just because you'll come in contact with the dance team.