Tito Horford will enroll at the University of Houston in January and hopes to play for the Cougars, even though the NCAA has said he is ineligible to do so, a published report said yesterday.

Horford, a native of the Dominican Republic who attended high school in Houston, initially planned to attend the university, but Houston was barred from enrolling him after the NCAA said it had violated recruiting rules.

Horford entered Louisiana State this fall but disappeared from the campus a few weeks ago after he was dismissed from the basketball team by LSU Coach Dale Brown for missing practice.

The Houston Post, which interviewed the 7-foot-1 player by telephone from Washington, quoted Horford as saying, "I'm positive I want to play for Houston.

"One of the reasons is that I've been in Houston the last three or four years, and I have a lot of friends there," Horford told the newspaper. "My dream is to play with the same friends I had in high school."

However, Horford is ineligible to play for the Cougars because of the recruiting violation committed by Cougars assistant coach Donnie Schverak. The school lost its first appeal to the NCAA to have that decision reversed, and a second appeal was too late, because Horford had already enrolled at LSU.

"I realize I made a mistake to go to Louisiana," Horford said. "I had family pressure put on me by my brother (Tony). I'm interested in going to school here (in the United States), and there's only one school I'm interested in -- the University of Houston."

Fred Jacoby, commissioner of the Southwest Conference, said there was a possibility that Horford could be granted immunity by the NCAA for providing information concerning his college recruitment. Horford finished talking last week with NCAA enforcement officer Doug Johnson, who has been assigned to the NCAA probe of LSU's recruitment of the high school star.