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At Last, Tito Horford Finds a Home at Miami

January 22, 1986

Tito Horford, the 7-foot 1-inch center from the Dominican Republic, Tuesday enrolled at Miami, saying he just wants to be a normal student and play a little basketball.

Horford first pursued that goal by signing a letter of intent at Houston, only to have the NCAA rule that the Cougars had violated recruiting guidelines and could not play him. Horford then enrolled at Louisiana State but was soon kicked off the team by coach Dale Brown for missing practices.

He has since expressed interest in several schools, UCLA and Kentucky among them, but was turned away until reaching Miami, which revived its basketball program last fall after 14 years without the sport.

Athletic Director Sam Jankovich said he had been in constant contact with the NCAA regarding Horford and did not expect any problems with his signing. Horford, 19, will not be eligible until next season. He said he was happy to have the last two months behind him and now felt more alive.

"I chose Miami because I like the climate and it's close to home," he said in the halting English he learned while attending three years of high school in Houston. "I chose it because the people, they're very friendly. They're not looking forward to just seeing me play basketball. They care about me as a person."

Said Coach Bill Foster: "After today, he's just going to be an average student. Of course, it's hard to be an average student when you're seven feet tall."

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