COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Two Missouri starters have declared for the NBA draft on the same day the school is expected to approve a contract to hire Miami's Frank Haith as its new men's basketball coach.
Juniors Kim English and Laurence Bowers announced Monday through a Missouri spokesman that they plan to pursue professional careers but have not hired agents, giving them extra time to change their minds.
The announcement comes as Missouri curators prepare to meet Monday night in a closed meeting that will likely involve consideration of a contract for Haith. A person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press late Sunday the Miami coach is headed to Columbia after seven seasons in south Florida. Miami announced Haith's resignation on Monday.
Bowers called his early entry into the NBA Draft "a dream." The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 11.6 points and 6.1 rebounds for a Missouri team that was ranked in top 10 early in the season but sputtered to a 23-11 finish and a first-round loss to Cincinnati in the NCAA tournament.
He hasn't ruled out a return to Missouri for his senior season. That was the approach taken by former teammates DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons in 2008. The two juniors also declared for the draft but came back to lead Missouri to a school-record 31 wins, a Big 12 Conference tournament title and a postseason run that ended one game short of the Final Four.
"This rule is in place to allow guys like us to explore their options and make an informed decision," Bowers said.
English, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, led Missouri in scoring as a sophomore but saw his 14-point average in 2009-10 fall by four points in the most recent season. English also found himself on the bench during key stretches and often appeared tentative.
He rejected assertions that the draft announcement was related to Missouri's coaching uncertainty. English also took critics of the Haith hire to task on his popular Twitter feed.
"Wow. Definitely disappointed in the response that some Mizzou fans are giving," he wrote on Sunday night. On Monday, English added that "Haith will win at Missouri, no doubt."
Haith, 45, is a former assistant at Big 12 schools Texas and Texas A&M as well as Wake Forest. He has a 129-101 record and one NCAA Tournament appearance with the Hurricanes but was just 43-69 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)