STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut center Alex Oriakhi has been granted his release from the basketball program.

The 6-foot-9 junior, a key piece of UConn's 2011 national championship run, informed coaches last week that he planned to transfer.

His father told the Hearst Connecticut Media Group that Oriakhi made the decision because Connecticut is expected to be academically ineligible for next season's NCAA tournament.

UConn spokesman Mike Enright said Oriakhi was granted the release on Tuesday.

Should UConn being barred from next year's tournament, Oriakhi could play immediately at another school. If UConn is successful in appealing the tournament ban, Oriakhi would have to sit out a year before using his final year of eligibility.

Oriakhi averaged 6.7 points and 4.8 rebounds this season after averaging almost 9.6 points and 8.7 as a sophomore.