According to a report in the Connecticut Post, power forward Alex Oriakhi has decided to transfer from UConn. With the Huskies banned from being able to compete in the 2013 NCAA Tournament due to poor academic standing and Jim Calhoun‘s coaching future in question, Oriakhi could be the first domino to fall in an exodus of UConn players from the program.
I figured Oriakhi might enter the 2012 NBA Draft this off-season but an extremely disappointing and inconsistent junior season really hurt his stock. Transferring makes sense for Oriakhi because if the tourney ban remains, there is a stipulation by the NCAA that Husky players will be able to leave UConn and become immediately eligible to compete for another school in the 2012-13 season rather than have to sit out a season under regular NCAA transfer rules. So ultimately, Oriakhi would become a “free agent” of sorts.
With that provision in place, it might open the door for other UConn players to bolt from the suddenly troubled program. Point guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright are potential NBA Draft picks but certainly not ready to make the jump to the league right now and would be better suited heading to a different school than leaving for the league. They could be tempted to take advantage of the transfer rule as could athletic forwards Roscoe Smith and DeAndre Daniels, power forward Tyler Olander, or swingman Niels Giffey.
Two UConn players are expected to leave for the NBA Draft. Shooting guard Jeremy Lamb is a likely lottery pick and has almost certainly played his final college game. Freshman center Andre Drummond is considered a top-five pick in the NBA Draft but has hinted at the possibility of returning to Storrs next season. However, the NCAA Tournament ban might accelerate Drummond’s path to pro ball. (Click here to see where we have Lamb and Drummund in our 2012 NBA Mock Draft.)
A possible exodus of Huskies could be detrimental for the program especially since they only have one recruit signed to their 2013 class, shooting guard Omar Calhoun.
The next couple of weeks will be critical for the future of the UConn basketball program. Connecticut has sent in an appeal to reverse the ruling so there is still the possibility that the NCAA might reverse their decision on the tourney ban. If not, tumultuous times could be coming in the very near future which is pretty crazy considering it was less than a year ago that the Huskies were cutting down the nets at the Final Four.
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.