UConn forward Alex Oriakhi is expected to meet with coaches from Missouri and Xavier on Friday afternoon, a source close to the situation told Hearst Connecticut Media Group.
Oriakhi, who was released from his scholarship last week, also will “definitely visit” North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky. After UConn’s final appeal for a postseason waiver was turned down Wednesday, Oriakhi becomes one step closer to gaining immediate eligibility for the 2012-13 season. At Missouri and Kentucky, though, it’s a little tricky: The SEC does not allow one-year transfers unless the student-athlete’s previous school no longer offers the sport (which is obviously not the case) or the student-athlete is granted an academic waiver.
Clearly, that seems to be possible because Missouri and Kentucky have both shown interest.
Let’s look at how Oriakhi fits with Xavier and Mizzou, the two schools he’s talking to this afternoon:
Missouri — After losing five rotation players, the Tigers reload with three big-time transfers (Oriakhi could be the fourth). Former Oregon commit Jabari Brown is the most celebrated of the bunch, while guards Keion Bell (17 points per game at Pepperdine) and Earnest Ross (13.1 points per game at Auburn) add plenty of punch to the backcourt. Senior forward Laurence Bowers missed all of last season with a torn ACL, and he’s the only truly reliable big man returning. Oriakhi could be a nice fit at center.
Xavier — The Musketeers recently picked up a tremendous perimeter scorer in junior college transfer Chris Thomas, and Oriakhi could be the missing ingredient to a top 25 team. Xavier, which loses its top two big men to graduation, has a pair of highly-touted freshman coming in (Jalen Reynolds and James Farr), but neither possesses the massive frame and physical style that Oriakhi provides.