Oriakhi Granted Release

Junior Alex Oriakhi moved another step closer to becoming a "former" Connecticut basketball player on Tuesday.

UConn spokesman Mike Enright confirmed Tuesday night that the school has granted the 6-foot-9 junior forward his release. Oriakhi, a key player in UConn's 2011 national championship drive, informed coach Jim Calhoun last week that he wanted to explore the possibility of transferring.

Oriakhi's father told the Hearst Connecticut Media Group at that time that the decision was based on the fact UConn is expected to be academically ineligible and banned from the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

If that ban is upheld, Oriakhi could play immediately at another school. It is obvious many teams think Oriakhi has something to offer. As many as 15 school reportedly expressed an interest in the big man the first day the news broke.

Kentucky and North Carolina are shaping up as possible destinations for Oriakhi, whose averages dropped to 6.7 points and 4.8 rebounds last season. Missouri and Duke have also been reported as possibilities.

If UConn successfully appeals the tournament ban, Oriakhi would then be forced to sit out one season before gaining back his final year of eligibility. That seems unlikely, but UConn has two possible chances of getting the ruling changed.

UConn initial waiver requested was turned down in February but the Huskies are appealing that. NCAA president Mark Emmert told ESPN.com last weekend that a decision on that appeal could be rendered in seven to 10 days.

If that fails, UConn's only hope will be a change in the data collection used by the Committee on Academic Progress. That change would have to be approved by the CAP. That might happen during meetings in late April or in July.

UConn also is awaiting decisions from Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb. Both are researching their position in the upcoming NBA Draft and may have no choice but to leave if they are projected as lottery picks.

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