On Friday, we mentioned that the Trojans were hosting former Tennessee Volunteer Renaldo Woolridge, as he toured the SC campus in search of a new school to transfer to. But, he’s not the only transfer target the Trojans are recruiting, as Kevin O’Neill and company are pursuing Alex Oriakhi of UConn.
With UConn being ineligible for the NCAA Tournament in 2013, the Huskies are in the same predicament as the USC football team was in 2010, where upperclassmen who would not be able to play in the postseason during their senior season would be eligible to transfer and play immediately. Alex Oriakhi fits that bill, and the soon-to-be senior is said to be considering a long list of schools.
According to the Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant on Wednesday, “the [Okriakhi] family is talking to Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Ohio State, Missouri, Southern [California], UCLA and NC State, and plans to take its time making the decision.” With that list of suitors, it comes down to how each team would use Oriakhi. Considering that he averaged 21.5 minutes as a junior, he’d likely destined to be a bench player with the elite schools, giving USC an edge, considering that playing time is key, as he would likely be ahead of Dewayne Dedmon on USC’s depth chart. But, before the Trojans get their shot at Oriakhi, the 6’9″ center has been visiting the elites.
On Wednesday afternoon, NBC Sports reported that Oriakhi was slated to visit North Carolina, Duke, Missouri and Kentucky, but yesterday it was reported by Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog, that Oriakhi had only completed three visits yet. According to Zagoria, the forward met with Kentucky, Xavier and Missouri, and Oriakhi even provided quotes on his visits. The most alarming in terms of USC’s outside shot at Oriakhi? A ton of minutes being promised by John Calipari of Kentucky.
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.
With playing time being the key to the transfer of Oriakhi, the fact that the basketball powers are offering him plenty of minutes really makes his chances of coming to USC slim and none, despite the initial report out of Connecticut listing USC as a potential suitor, and Pedro Moura of ESPN mentioning the Trojans’ pursuit of Oriakhi as recently as Friday. The only way the Trojans make sense for Oriakhi is if Kevin O’Neill can promise a starting spot, while no one else is. But, when Missouri’s Frank Haith is making it clear that he ‘needs him’, he’ll remain a pipe dream for USC hoops, just like Shabazz Muhammad, who eliminated the Trojans at the end of March.