Round 1: #2 Ben Gordon vs. #15 Alex Oriakhi

Ben Gordon vs. Alex Oriakhi

#2 Ben Gordon – (2001-2004)
by Peter Bard

I’m not sure that UConn has ever had a more versatile and creative offensive player than Ben Gordon. Gordon was at his best slashing through the defense and getting to the paint. Or was he at his best releasing his beautiful jump shot from behind the arc, which he hit at 42.3% career, good for second all-time at UConn? Maybe it was distributing to the myriad of talented players surrounding him (11th all-time in assists). Whatever it was, Gordon was one of the most comforting players to see with the ball.

Derisively nicknamed “Gentle Ben” because of his hesitancy to take over games despite his incredible talents, Gordon was often the focus of Calhoun’s frustrations, even as he was leading the team in scoring two years in a row. Then he scored 81 points over three games in the Big East Tournament.

Gordon was half of perhaps the best recruiting class ever at UConn (sit down, Chad Wise), along with fellow 2004 National Champion Emeka Okafor. Okafor was definitely the bigger name, and the better overall player, but I never felt better than when Gordon had the ball.

Gordon has achieved admirable success in the NBA, being named the Sixth Man of the Year as a rookie, and participating in the rookie challenge on All-Star weekend. He was also the leading scorer on four playoff-bound Bulls teams, averaging more than 20 points per game in two of those seasons.

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Career Points: 1795

Career Rebounds: 415

Career Assists: 437

Career Steals: 125

Career Blocks: 19


1st Team Big East 2003-2004
2nd Team Big East 2002-2003
UConn all-time leader 3-pointers/game
1,000 point club
Member of 2004 National Championship team
NBA Lottery pick
Left UConn after junior season

  #15 Alex Oriakhi – (2009-2012)
by Tyler Wilkinson

No player in UConn history has been subject to the same level of vitriol as Alex Oriakhi. Despite being the best player on the court against Butler, as UConn completed their historic National Championship run in 2011, Oriakhi is regarded as a turncoat and a traitor by many of the same fans who cheered him on. On stats alone, Oriakhi’s career was memorable and impressive. If he had returned to UConn for his senior season, he had an outside chance of joining the 1,000/1,000 club. Instead, upset over playing time and upcoming NCAA sanctions, he (and his father) fled to Missouri to play out the final season of his career.

Career Points: 789

Career Rebounds: 745

Career Assists: 37

Career Steals: 33

Career Blocks: 166


Member of 2011 National Championship team
Left UConn after junior season

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.


  1. If Oriakhi had duplicated his Missouri stats at UConn this season, he would have become the 7th player in UConn history to have 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.

    Not expecting him to garner much support, but when the emotion behind his departure dissipates, his contributions will really be appreciated.

  2. It’s not that he left. It’s that he acted like a baby for most of the 2011-12 season, lashing out at Calhoun on twitter TWICE. Then he insulted coach on the way out the door. I don’t bear nearly as much ill will toward Scoe. At least he just kind of quietly left.

  3. I’m not mad at Oriakhi. He did what he had to do. I’m mad at the NCAA for telling him that he had to transfer to ever play postseason basketball again.

  4. I would have replaced Oriakhi with Hilton Armstrong and moved someone else to the 15 seed. I can’t believe Alex has votes right now!

    • Oriakhi had more points and rebounds in 3 years than Armstrong had in 4. Also played a larger role on a Championship team.

    • Apparently, his sister mixes it up in the comments. I dunno. I liked him and probably still will some day. He made huge contributions to my favorite title run of the 3. I’m thankful for that. I just wish he could have exited with more grace.

  5. Imagine how many points Oriakhi would’ve scored had Calhoun not benched him to keep him from going to the NBA…

  6. I’m having a semi-can’t-tell-if-serious moment. He has turned in a very good season at Mizzou. He is who he was as a sophomore, only he’s shooting much better from the floor and the FT line.

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