Big East Basketball Tournament - Syracuse v UCONN

The latest on Alex Oriakhi

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The nation’s most sought-after transfer is Alex Oriakhi.

A senior-to-be and a former national champion, Oriakhi is one of the few players available that is good enough to have an instant and significant impact where he ends up. The former UConn Husky is eligible immediately due to a rule the NCAA has where players can transfer without penalty if the remainder of their eligibility at their original school would have been played under a postseason ban. UConn is ineligible for the postseason due to their APR issues.

We already knew that Oriakhi had a top five of Kentucky, Xavier, Missouri, North Carolina and Duke, but Adam Zagoria provided us with an update on the status of his re-recruitment:

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.

To be frank, I’m not sure if Kentucky will be the best fit for Oriakhi. He had a number of issues at UConn, but the core of the problem was that UConn brought in the No. 1 center recruit in the country in Andre Drummond. Oriakhi and Drummond couldn’t share the floor because they were both limited to the center spot. Calipari is currently recruiting center Nerlens Noel and power forward Anthony Bennett very hard. If he lands those two freshmen, will Oriakhi be ok with coming off of the bench again?

Both Xavier and Missouri seem to be better situations for Oriakhi to walk into. With the Musketeers, he’ll be able to slide in and fill the void left by Kenny Frease. But Xavier may end up have a down year with Tu Holloway’s graduation. At Missouri, not only will he be taking over for Ricardo Ratliffe, he’ll be joining a team with an incredibly talented back court — Phil Pressey and Michael Dixon — and a perfect front line compliment in Laurence Bowers, who is coming off of ACL surgery. Throw in fellow transfers Jabari Brown, Keion Bell and Earnest Ross, and Oriakhi’s addition could make the Tigers the SEC favorite.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

USC athletic director Pat Haden to step down in June

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LOS ANGELES (AP) University of Southern California athletic director Pat Haden says he will retire on June 30.

USC President Max Nikias made the announcement Friday.

Haden has run the athletic department for 5 1/2 years, leading the Trojans through a multiyear stretch of NCAA sanctions against its vaunted football program. He created a large NCAA compliance program and improved graduation rates and grade point averages across the athletic department.

The former USC quarterback also received criticism for the football program’s relative underachievement and for his handling of coach Steve Sarkisian, who has sued the school over his termination last year.

Nikias says Haden’s department also raised over $400 million during his tenure.

Nikias says Haden will start a one-year job guiding the renovation of the Coliseum after he retires.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ivy League’s best meet in New Haven

Columbia guard Maodo Lo, right, steals the ball from Northwestern forward Aaron Falzon, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Evanston, Ill.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Columbia at Yale, 5:00 p.m.

The two best teams in the Ivy League, with matching 4-0 league records, meet for the first time this season. The Lions were close to suffering their first loss last weekend, but an Alex Rosenberg jumper as time expired gave the Lions the win at reigning champion Harvard. Rosenberg’s one of four players averaging at least 12.2 points per game for Kyle Smith’s team, with senior guard Maodo Lo leading the way at 15.8 per contest.

They’ll face a Yale rotation led offensively by point guard Makai Mason (15.7 ppg, 4.1 apg), and the front court tandem of Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod has been outstanding. The winner get a leg up in the Ivy race, with the rematch scheduled for March 5 in New York City (regular season finale).

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Central Michigan at Akron, 8:00 p.m.

Two of the top teams in the Mid-American Conference meet at the JAR, as Akron looks to extend its win streak to six straight. The Zips’ balanced offensive attack has been led by forward Isaiah Johnson (12.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg), who currently leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. As for the visiting Chippewas, guards Braylon Rayson and Chris Fowler combine to average 32.7 points per game, with Fowler also responsible for a MAC-best 6.3 assists per contest. CMU’s had some struggles on the defensive glass in league play, ranking 11th in that category, but they’ve done a better job defensively than they did in non-conference play.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • MAAC leader Monmouth is back in action, as they host a Fairfield team led by one of the conference’s best players in senior forward Marcus Gilbert. The Hawks have a deep lineup led by junior guard Justin Robinson, who at this point in time is the likely frontrunner for MAAC Player of the Year honors.
  • Looking to catch Monmouth is Iona, which is a game behind the Hawks at 9-3. A.J. English and the Gaels visit Canisius in a matchup that should not lack for offense. Iona’s more inclined to run, but Canisius doesn’t lack scorers either with guard Malcolm McMillan leading four players averaging double figures.
  • Given the fact that they’re 1-3 in Ivy League play, Harvard’s essentially in the spoiler role unless some chaos breaks out at the top end of the standings. The Crimson can help in that regard with a win at Princeton, with the Tigers (2-1) a game behind Columbia and Yale in the loss column. Princeton’s been the better offensive team this season, thanks in large part to junior forward Henry Caruso who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding.