Friday, April 18, 2014

Obekpa Has Change Of Heart, Remains At St. John's

Two weeks removed from receiving release to transfer, Chris Obekpa has second thoughts, opting instead to return to St. John's for his junior season. (Photo courtesy of the New York Post)

In just fifteen days, St. John's has gone from staring a potential year-long rebuilding project in the face to once again reclaiming its perch as a preseason Big East favorite.

After being granted his release to pursue a transfer on April 3rd, Chris Obekpa has reconsidered his initial decision, deciding that St. John's was still the best fit for him as he enters his junior season next fall. Obekpa's change of opinion comes after the Red Storm was besieged by false rumors of guards D'Angelo Harrison and Phil Greene also leaving the program along with Obekpa and JaKarr Sampson, who last month announced he would forgo his final two seasons in Queens to enter the NBA Draft.

"After giving consideration to transferring, it's become clear that it makes the most sense to continue my career as a student-athlete at St. John's," the shot-blocking sensation said via a release issued this afternoon by senior associate athletic director and men's basketball sports information director Mark Fratto. "My brothers and I have unfinished business, and I am determined to help St. John's continue the climb up the mountain."

The 6-9 Nigerian import by way of Long Island has led the Big East in blocked shots in each of his first two seasons despite his productivity tailing off just slightly from his four rejections per game as a freshman on a St. John's team that advanced to the second round of the National Invitation Tournament. This past year, Obekpa managed to register 2.9 blocks per contest on a 20-win Red Storm outfit whose season came to a crashing halt in a shocking opening round NIT loss to Robert Morris at Carnesecca Arena one month ago tonight.

"Chris approached me last week to communicate his change of heart," head coach Steve Lavin stated in the aforementioned release. "After good dialogue, we are pleased to announce Chris will continue his career as a student-athlete with the Red Storm."

Having served as a sixth man over most of his first two seasons, Obekpa will likely occupy a place in the starting five for St. John's next season, as Sampson's departure leaves the Red Storm somewhat inexperienced in the frontcourt aside from soon-to-be senior Sir'Dominic Pointer and redshirt sophomore Christian Jones, who sat out last season.

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