Alex Oriakhi was the first player to leave the Huskies program after the 2011-12 season but he's yet to find a landing spot. It's not because of lack of interest, however; many of the country's top programs are in hot pursuit of the 6-9, 240-pound junior, but Oriakhi is taking his time.
He's already met in his home with head coaches from Kentucky (John Calipari), Xavier (Chris Mack) and Missouri (Frank Haith) and is in the process of lining up campus visits. As for the trip to Missouri, Oriakhi says he's "counting down the days," according to the Kansas City Star.
We mentioned it last week: Oriakhi knows Mizzou guard Phil Pressey -- the two have played together since the eighth grade. And now, Pressey is doing his part to get his friend to Missouri.
"As soon as he heard I was transferring, he was like 'Come play with me,'" said Oriakhi via the Star. "Flip, that’s my guy...we talk just about everyday, to be honest, and that’s how we’ve always been. He was on the phone with me for an hour and a half (Monday) night.”
The Tigers have two scholarships available, one with Oriakhi's name on it should he want it.
“I’m looking for a team that not only wants me, but needs me,” Oriakhi said. “I’m looking for a team that’s lacking in the frontcourt and needs a big man.”
Missouri lost forwards Steve Moore and Ricardo Ratliffe to graduation so there's a need in the frontcourt. Of course, as we've written before, teams looking for an inside scoring threat will be disappointed with Oriakhi, who is more a defensive enforcer and rebounding fiend. He realizes as much. “Growing up, I wasn’t the most offensively talented big man,” Oriakhi said, “so I had to do other things on the court to make myself effective. … “If I don’t score, that can’t stop me from rebounding, that can’t stop me from playing defense.”
And it's that mentality that makes Oriakhi in such demand. Scorers are the headliners but it's hard to find guys willing to commit to defensive basketball. And that's where Oriakhi shines. Now it's a matter of just deciding where he'll take those talents in 2012-13.