Alex Oriakhi Meets With Kentucky, Xavier & Mizzou (UPDATED)
Over the last couple of days, UConn junior power forward Alex Oriakhi met at his Lowell, Mass., home with Kentucky coach John Calipari, Xavier coach Chris Mack and Missouri coach Frank Haith.
Oriakhi later confirmed a report by CBSSports.com that he plans to visit Missouri next weekend (April 13) and Kentucky the following weekend.
Kentucky, Xavier and Missouri are offering major playing time next season, Oriakhi told SNY.tv, and he is also considering North Carolina and Duke.
As for the visit with Calipari, Oriakhi said: “It went real well. Coach Calipari, he broke it down for me. He told me he wasn’t going to promise me anything, which I like. He’s not going to promise me anything.
“He would like for me to come in and lead right away and I definitely feel he was honest. He did present Kentucky very well. He talked about how the basktball players have a high GPA so he values education with his players. I think it really went well.”
Kentucky could lose its entire starting five to the NBA and is hoping to land some combination of Shabazz Muhammad, Nerlens Noel and Anthony Bennett.
“He just told me he has two players returning,” Oriakhi said of Calipari. “He has nobody.”
Asked if that was appealing, Oriakhi said, “That’s definitely appealing to know that he doesn’t have anybody coming back. It means major minutes are definitely there. It’s definitely appealing. Obviously, he’s the best at having guys one and done.”
Oriakhi also met with Mack, who is also offering playing time.
“They are not a big-time school but basically they just do as much as those big-time schools,” he said of Xavier. “He basically gave me the depth chart and said, ‘We don’t just want you, we need you.’
“They don’t really have any post players. They definitely need me. That’s a plus.”
Oriakhi also met Friday with Missouri’s Haith.
“He’s a down to earth guy,” Oriakhi said. “He said the same thing that Xavier said. They don’t just want me, they need me. They have one of the best playmakers in college basketball [in Phil Pressey].
“We have played with each other since the 8th grade.”
Asked if that would be a factor for him, Oriakhi said, “I can’t go to a school based on one person. I gotta do this for me. He definitely understands but he would love to play with me again.”
Oriakhi said he’s also considering North Carolina and Duke and reports that Duke was out are untrue.
“I never said they were out,” he said. I’m talking to North Carolina and Duke as well. I’m pretty sure visits are going to come in the future. I don’t want to miss classes.”
Oriakhi said Washington was out basically because, “Why go that far?”
As far as when he may decide, Oriakhi said, “I really don’t have a timetable. It’s not something Im going to rush, either.
“Probably by the end of the month.”
Oriakhi also said he thinks both Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond will declare for the NBA Draft.
“In my opinion,” he said, “I think they’ll go.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.