After transforming the girls’ basketball program at Ferguson into a state powerhouse over the past five years, Gabriel Lazo is headed to the college level.
Lazo told the Miami Herald this week he has accepted an assistant coaching position with the women’s basketball program at FIU.
“This is a dream come true for me,” said Lazo, who will assist first-year coach Tiara Malcom, who was promoted to head coach after one year as an assistant. “It’s always been a goal for me to coach at the college level.”
Lazo led Ferguson to the state final four each of the past two seasons, including an appearance in the state final this year before losing on a buzzer-beater against Boca Raton.
Lazo led the Falcons to the regional finals each of the previous two seasons. The program had never been to the playoffs prior to that and had gone winless during the 2011-12 season.
Ferguson also won a GMAC title this past season, and back-to-back district titles.
Veteran coach Tom Jicha, who has coached Ferguson’s boys’ team in recent years, is expected to take over as coach of the girls’ program.
Lazo, a former point guard at Miami High, played briefly at FIU. He was the Miami Herald’s large school Girls’ Basketball Coach of the Year the past two seasons, and a co-Coach of the Year after the 2014-15 season.
Despite Lazo’s departure Ferguson brings back one of the most talented teams in the state next season and figures to be a contender for the Class 9A state championship once again. The Falcons return All-Dade first team guards Natalia Pineda and Sheslanie Laureano as well as 6-4 junior Cheyanne Daniels, who is coming back from a season-ending knee injury.