Whenever a player transfers, the initial thought, at least at UConn, is that maybe Jim Calhoun's coaching style had something to do with the decision. Let's be honest, despite Calhoun's success during his quarter-century in Storrs, the manner in which he coaches isn't for everyone. Jamaal Coombs-McDaniels, UConn's sixth man during their title run a year ago, left school last summer because he wanted more playing time, but also because he butted heads with Calhoun.
So when reports emerged last week that Oriakhi would transfer, our first thought was that it wouldn't be surprising if the decision was based, in part, on Calhoun, whose abrasive style can wear down the unprepared. Exacerbating the perception: Oriakhi's father posted this on Twitter: "To coaches out there with slave master mentality, ur days are over. Bully only leads to resentments. Bb is a fun game not a mental hospital."
But the Hartford Courant's Dom Amore spoke to Oriakhi Sr., who provided some clarification.
”The words ” master-slavery mentality” was not about Coach Calhoun,” Mr. Oriakhi said in an email to Amore last week. ”… I never mentioned anyone by name. The timing was disingenuous. I love coach Calhoun no matter what. I did what is best for my son.”
Oriakhi Sr. told Amore that the tweet was in reference to another coach at another school.
While losing Oriakhi, the basketball player, would hurt, there's also his academic contributions. Details via Katz: "Oriakhi has said that he had a 3.6 grade point average for the fall semester, according to the Courant. His departure would hurt UConn's already shaky academic standing."
But we'll have to wait at least 7-10 days, and maybe until summer for a resolution on the NCAA's academic sanctions.
For now, there is some good news: Omar Calhoun, Huskies' top incoming recruit, is still coming to Storrs. Amore spoke with Calhoun Sr. recently, who said “Nothing has changed,” When Amore asked if his son was still committed to UConn, he said “Yes," but he didn't want to comment on any current issues involving UConn’s program.