PITTSBURGH PA - DECEMBER 27: Alex Oriakhi #34 of the Connecticut Huskies reacts to taking a foul against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Petersen Events Center on December 27 2010 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh defeated Connecticut 78-64. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Alex Oriakhi Transferring From Connecticut To Missouri

Missouri lands the former UConn forward who can play immediately for the Tigers in 2012-13.

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Frank Haith Says Alex Oriakhi's Transfer To Missouri Is 'Like Christmas Present'

The Missouri Tigers enjoyed a season for the ages in 2011. Thirty wins through the Big 12 regular season, the team was perched in the top five for most of the year and Frank Haith won Coach of the Year for his incredible work. However, the team soured at the wrong time and lost in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament to Norfolk State in a historic loss.

The good news is that it didn’t take very long to have a positive outlook for Missouri basketball again. When UConn forward Alex Oriakhi announced his intention to transfer to Missouri, his immediate availability and post ability gave an already good program a chance to return to greatness one year later. On a guard heavy team, Oriakhi’s presence should immediately be felt. Frank Haith knows it.

“He was ecstatic," explains Oriakhi in an interview with KCSP. "He was really excited, gave me a hug and said, ‘Welcome to the family.’ … He said it was like getting a Christmas present. I heard that. That’s not what he told me, but that’s what I heard. I just laughed. For a coach to say that about you, it just shows how bad he really wanted me and I’m just excited to come down there and just work my tail off and let the results follow.”

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Alex Oriakhi Transfer To Missouri: Phil Pressey Played Major Role For UConn Forward

The Missouri Tigers’ success of the last year certainly put them on the map in a major way and placed Frank Haith in the spotlight after a 30 win season in the Big 12. Now as they prepare to avenge their first round NCAA Tournament loss to Norfolk State, they will have a bit more size underneath in UConn forward transfer Alex Oriakhi. And Haith has his point guard to thank for that.

Gary Parrish of CBS Sports writes, “Oriakhi’s relationship with Mizzou point guard Phil Pressey was among the factors in his decision. The 6-foot-9 forward will be able to play for the Tigers immediately because UConn is banned from the 2013 NCAA tournament. He’ll have one year of eligibility.”

Oriakhi is 6-9, 240 lbs. and averaged 6.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 2011-12. That’s down from the previous year when Oriakhi averaged 9.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. In short, he’s quite capable of providing much-needed muscle down low.

For more on Missouri basketball go check out Rock M Nation.

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