Once UConn officially releases Alex Oriakhi from scholarship, there will be no shortage of suitors reaching out to 6-foot-9 forward. As disappointing as his junior campaign was, people forget that Oriakhi was an absolute monster as a sophomore.
Just ask Rick Barnes and Tom Izzo, who saw Oriakhi torch their teams to the tune of 24 points and 38 rebounds in two games. Those guys probably wouldn’t mind having AO for one season.
Here’s a look at schools that could be a good fit for an unusual — yet very desirable — “one and done” prospect.
North Carolina — With Tyler Zeller graduating and John Henson likely to declare for the NBA Draft, there will be some holes up front for the ‘Heels. Freshman James McAdoo is a true four-man, so Oriakhi, a natural at the “five” position, won’t have the same issues he experienced alongside Andre Drummond.
Kentucky — At the moment, John Calipari only has one big man — 6-foot-10, 215-pound center Willie Cauley — in his 2012 recruiting class. That could change if he’s able to beat out Syracuse and Georgetown for Nerlens Noel, the No. 1 player in the nation. Noel and Oriakhi both played their high school ball at The Tilton School (New Hampshire), so there may be a connection there.
Duke – According to an ESPN.com report, sources say Duke could be one of the teams to contact Oriakhi, who wouldn’t have trouble meeting the academic standards in Durham: He earned a 3.6 GPA in the fall semester, tops among all UConn scholarship players. That’s the irony in the whole thing. Oriakhi filed for transfer because of the postseason ban resulting from UConn’s poor academic performance. And he’s the exception for a program that has struggled in the classroom over several years.
Rhode Island — Up-and-coming first-year coach Dan Hurley can make a big splash by landing Oriakhi. Perhaps he’ll spurn some high-majors for a chance to be the go-to guy at URI.
Hofstra – In an era where friends like to join forces on the basketball court (LeBron James and Dwyane Wade made it cool/popular to do so), Oriakhi could re-connect with ex-UConn forward Jamal Coombs-McDaniel. The duo became roommates at The Tilton School when they were 16 years old and also spent two years living together at UConn. Also, former Huskies assistant Pat Sellers is on the Hofstra staff, which can’t hurt.
UMass – If staying close to home is important, the Minutemen have a shot. UMass, currently in the “other” Final Four, graduates its leading rebounder (Sean Carter), but returns its top two scorers in sophomore guards Chaz Williams and Raphiael Putney. Oriakhi would fit nicely.
Florida State — Can’t you picture him in a ‘Noles jersey? Florida State plays a rugged, physical style that suits Oriakhi well.
Ohio State — The Buckeyes don’t have a single commit for the class of 2012, which could put them in the market for a transfer (like Oriakhi) to replace Jared Sullinger.
Harvard – Oriakhi values education; Harvard values smart guys who are awesome at basketball. So why not?