About three weeks ago, University of Connecticut center Alex Oriakhi was granted his release from the UConn basketball program. Oriakhi is a 6'9" 245-pound center who was a key piece of UConn's 2011 national championship run. Oriakhi averaged 6.7 points and 4.8 rebounds this past season after averaging almost 9.6 points and 8.7 rebounds as a sophomore.
On Friday, Oriakhi decided to transfer to Missouri, and has signed a financial aid agreement to attend Mizzou. ShowMeMizzou.com spoke with Oriakhi, and he talked about his decision to transfer to Missouri.
"It definitely came from my heart that I felt that this is where I wanted to go," said Oriakhi, who made his decision to attend Missouri on Friday during his visit. "You know, obviously getting a chance to play with my friend, Phi Pressey, who I've played with since the eighth grade, definitely helped a lot. You know, I'm just excited! It's going to be a fresh start. I think it's going to be an athletic team that has a chance to do things if we're willing to buy into it."
Oriakhi plans to move to Columbia next month and begin taking classes in June. He's looking forward to becoming acclimated with his new surroundings and with his new coaches and teammates.
"They were ecstatic," replied Oriakhi, when I asked him what the coaching staff said to him after he told them that he had decided to attend Missouri. "They were happy. They said that they're excited to have me. They said that they're going to work me, and they asked me if I'm willing to put in the work? I said that there's no question that I'm willing to put in the work. I think it was a perfect match."
I asked Oriakhi what did Phil Pressey have to say to him?
"He's very happy," explained Oriakhi. "He's happy. I'm happy that I get to play with a playmaker like Phil. And the best part about it is I know him on a personal level. Like I said, it's just a perfect match."
Oriakhi said that he spent some time with Laurence Bowers, and that he "already knew Jabari" (Brown).
"Laurence Bowers is a real funny dude," said Oriakhi. "He begged me. He said please come here? I don't want to play the five."
Oriakhi talked about his role on the team.
"I'm going to be a guy that is a defensive presence, that I've always been, you know, rebound and block shots," said Oriakhi. "I'm definitely going to work hard on my post moves. I'm going to be the back to the basket player that they need."
Speaking of playing with Phil Pressey, Oriakhi said, "If you set a good screen, he'll definitely find you……………………………… We'll be in the gym a lot, getting used to each other."
Oriakhi plans to take in the Spring Football game on Saturday.