Oriakhi picked by Suns; undrafted Pressey to sign with Celtics

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06/28/2013 2:47 PM

05/16/2014 9:40 AM

Phil Pressey didn’t hear his name called Thursday during the 2013 NBA Draft, but former Missouri men’s basketball teammate Alex Oriakhi was selected No. 57 overall by the Phoenix Suns.

Oriakhi, a 6-foot-9, 255-pound senior power forward who transferred to the Tigers from Connecticut in the spring of 2012, built his reputation on defense and rebounding.

During pre-draft workouts, Oriakhi showed a mid-range game that was seldom on display during his one season at Mizzou, but that ability consistently to connect on 15-foot jumpers surely bumped up his draft stock earning him one of the coveted 60 spots in the draft.

“The 15-foot jump shot is something I’ve worked on religiously nights in the gym, working on my game,” Oriakhi said. “I’ve always had it. At UConn, I showed it a little bit, but at Missouri I was always told to pick-and-roll.

“I wasn’t able to show it, but you could see I could shoot the ball from my free-throw percentage and my turnaround jump shot. At the workouts, I didn’t miss. I had some tremendous workouts.”

Oriakhi — a native of Lowell, Mass., who averaged 11.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks — shot 63.9 percent from the field and 74.6 percent from the free-throw line.

Second-round draft picks do not receive guaranteed contracts and Oriakhi joins a crowded Suns frontcourt that already includes former Kansas State star Michael Beasley and the Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, who played at Kansas.

Phoenix, which finished last in the Western Conference at 25-57, also drafted Maryland center Alex Len fifth overall.

“The way that draft was going, I didn’t know who was high on who,” Oriakhi said. “So many good players didn’t even get their name called, so, to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. You hear one team likes you, this team’s in love with you, but now you realize none of that means anything. I’m just happy I was given an opportunity some people didn’t get, so I can’t complain.”

Meanwhile, Pressey, who established career-highs in points (11.9) and assists (7.1) as a junior last season, became a free agent — but not for long.

The Star learned early Friday morning that Pressey was set to sign with the rebuilding Boston Celtics.

Mizzou seniors Laurence Bowers and Keion Bell went undrafted along with former Kansas State guard Rodney McGruder. No word on whether any of those three players had signed free-agent deals.

Finally, Tony Mitchell, who originally committed to Mizzou but wound up at North Texas when he wasn’t eligible academically, was selected No. 37 overall by the Detroit Pistons.

Mitchell, who played two seasons for the Mean Green, averaged 13.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in 55 college games.

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