Missouri Basketball: What Does Alex Oriakhi Signing Mean for Tigers Basketball?

Brian LendinoCorrespondent IIApril 13, 2012

HARTFORD, CT - JANUARY 9:  Alex Oriakhi #34 of the Connecticut Huskies takes a look at the clock in the final minutes of a win against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the second  half at the XL Center on January 9, 2012,  in Hartford, Connecticut.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The University of Missouri’s basketball program made a large splash in college basketball by receiving a transfer commitment from former Connecticut big man Alex Oriakhi for his senior season, according to Gary Parrish of CBS Sports.

After the NCAA made aware that UConn would not be allowed to participate in the 2013 NCAA tournament due to below-standard academic results, Oriakhi declared his intentions to transfer to a program that would better suit his wishes.

Oriakhi made clear Friday that that school was Missouri. Due to the special circumstance of the situation, he will not be forced to sit out a season and will be available immediately for the Tigers next season.

The 6'9" center will join head coach Frank Haith’s program as a productive inside presence that can score, rebound and defend.

So, what does this Alex Oriakhi's transfer mean for Missouri basketball?

Well, when added to the mix of Auburn transfer Earnest Ross, Pepperdine transfer, Keion Bell, Oregon transfer Jabari Brown, as well as returning Tiger players such as Michael Dixon Jr., Laurence Bowers and Phil “Flip” Pressey, it provides Frank Haith and Co. with arguably the second-best squad in the SEC next season.

We all know that the defending national champion Kentucky Wildcats are going to be the best team in the conference next season, but it’d be a shame if anyone overlooked the talent on this incoming Missouri squad.

They will have improved rebounding—which was easily their downfall this past season—while not giving up the ability to score and run the court in patented Tiger style.

Oriakhi will replace the NCAA’s second-best player in terms of field-goal percentage in Ricardo Ratliffe, and hopes to assist the team in improving upon their program-best 30 wins for 2011-12.

In my opinion, the Missouri Tiger starting five should look like this:

  • Phil “Flip” Pressey
  • Keion Bell
  • Earnest Ross
  • Laurence Bowers
  • Alex Oriakhi

No one knows how Coach Haith will handle the situation regarding top-20 recruit Jabari Brown, and proven scorer and facilitator Michael Dixon Jr.’s position in the rotation, but one thing we do know is that Haith has a method to his madness and has proven all of his naysayers wrong in his short tenure at Missouri.