It's official: Alex Oriakhi is no longer a member of the Huskies basketball team. The 6-9 big man was granted his release from his scholarship and now he's free to play basketball at another school. Where? That's to be determined, but despite the release, the Massachusetts native could still return to UConn.
"It doesn't mean he has to leave," a UConn spokesman said according to the Hartford Courant's Dom Amore, "but [the release] has been granted."
As it stands, Oriakhi can play almost anywhere next season except another Big East school. The conference doesn't allow transfers from one team to another. And because the Huskies are currently ineligible for the 2013 NCAA Tournament, Oriakhi will be eligible to play in 2012-13 instead of having to sit out a season.
Amore writes that Kentucky and Missouri have been mentioned as possible landing spots for Oriakhi, but after reading the SEC bylaws, that doesn't appear to be possible.
"A student-athlete who, upon enrollment at the certifying institution, has less than two years of eligibility remaining is not eligible for financial aid, practice or competition at the member institution. A member institution may request a waiver from the Conference office for a student-athlete transferring from an institution discontinuing a sport, or for a student-athlete transferring for the purpose of enrolling in an academic program not offered at the institution from which he or she is transferring."
As Amore notes, the Huskies aren't doing away with the basketball program (although it may feel that way in light of impending sanctions). But there's another wrinkle, too: the NCAA will convene in the coming days to consider if the Academic Progress Rates -- which are responsible for UConn currently not being eligible for the '13 tourney -- should be recalculated to include the most recent year's data. If that happens, the Huskies would then meet the minimum APR requirements and would be cleared to play in next year's tournament. That would mean that Oriakhi would then be forced to sit out a season, assuming he transfers to another Division I school.
And while there's been no mention of it, Oriakhi could also choose to enter the NBA Draft. He reportedly discussed the possibility after UConn's title run a year ago but decided to return to school. Oriakhi probably wouldn't be a first-round pick should he declare, which means that if he was drafted at all his contract wouldn't be guaranteed.
Whatever happens, this much is clear: Oriakhi wanted out of UConn. So much so that he's willing to risk sitting out the 2012-13 season.