STORRS, CT - NOVEMBER 11: Alex Oriakhi #34 of the Connecticut Huskies gestures during a game against the Columbia Lions in the first half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion on November 11, 2011 in Storrs, Connecticut. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Junior Alex Oriakhi is officially a collegiate free agent. After informing Connecticut's coaching staff last week of his desire to leave, the school officially released him from his scholarship.
The 6-foot-9 big man is now eligible to speak with other schools -- and several big-name programs are reportedly lining up to recruit him. From Kevin Duffy of the Connecticut Post:
A source close to the situation said Kentucky, North Carolina, Missouri and Duke are among the teams that have contacted Oriakhi. There appears to be mutual interest with the first three, but it seems unlikely that Oriakhi will consider Duke.
As a sophomore, Oriakhi averaged 9.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 29.1 minutes per game, helping the Huskies win the 2011 NCAA Tournament. His playing time and production suffered following the arrival of star freshman Andre Drummond, though, as he averaged just 6.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 21.5 minutes this past season.
Under normal circumstances, a player is forced to sit out for a season when transferring to another school, but that rule may not apply Oriakhi. Under new NCAA rules, UConn was deemed ineligible for the 2013 NCAA Tournament due to its poor academic progress rating, although the school is appealing the ruling. If they lose their appeal this summer, Oriakhi will be allowed to play immediately for his new school.
For more on Oriakhi and Huskies basketball, visit The UConn Blog.