With ACC Player of the Year Tyler Zeller graduating, and junior
John Henson contemplating a jump to the NBA, UNC could be left with
no upperclassmen in its frontcourt and a lot of playing time available for the taking.
“North Carolina is definitely on our radar,” Alex Oriakhi Sr. said. “I know a lot of
the big boys are leaving this year. So, we’ll see what happens.”
A 6-foot-9, 240-pound post player, Oriakhi averaged 6.7
points and 4.8 rebounds this season and 9.6 points and 8.7 rebounds for his sophomore season, which included a starting role on UConn's national title team.
New NCAA academic requirements are expected to make UConn ineligible for the
2013 NCAA Tournament.
While other factors contributed to the transfer, Oriakhi’s
father said missing the NCAA tournament was the final straw.
“He really wants to play in the tournament -- that’s the bottom line,”
Oriakhi Sr. said. “Especially in his final year of college. College isn’t like
the pros, it’s a once in a lifetime chance. You have to be able to
enjoy your college career.”
If, as expected, Oriakhi receives a waiver from the NCAA to be
eligible for the 2012-13 season, his father says they want a place that will
prepare him for the NBA.
“On the court, Alex is a gentle giant," he said "He’s a student of the game and
he loves to learn. He listens, doesn’t talk too much and doesn’t
argue. I want a coach that’s going to work with him -- someone who can
teach him the game of basketball on the big man level.”
After being granted his official release from UConn on Tuesday, Oriakhi said
his son’s phone has been ringing off the hook. While he declined to
name which schools had contacted Alex, he said they were “all big D1
A report by CTNews.com on Tuesday claimed UNC had already contacted Oriakhi, but both father and son said they had not heard from the Tar Heel staff.
“Everybody’s been calling,” he said. “But I have a lot of friends in
the basketball world – a lot of contacts. We’re going to use them to
help us make a decision. We cannot go wrong this time.”
With a reported 3.6 GPA, it’s no surprise academics will play a major
role in Oriakhi’s decision. According to his father, had he stayed at
UConn, he would’ve graduated over the summer with a degree in Mass
UConn’s semester ends the first week in May, which is a target date for the
Oriakhis to make their decision.
“This is not something we’re going to do overnight,” Oriakhi’s father
said. “Coming out of high school he only to took one visit, and that
was to UConn when he was only 16. Not everyone has a second chance, so
he wants to make the best decision available. I’m going to get the
best possible advice. It’s going to be a very careful, deliberate