Chris Obekpa becomes third incumbent to leave St. John's in less than two weeks after being granted release. (Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News)
As one New York college basketball coach named Steve ponders his personal future, another man in the same line of work with the same first name must now find another replacement for his roster next season.
Chris Obekpa, whose shot blocking prowess helped St. John's procure consecutive National Invitation Tournament berths, has; according to Adam Zagoria of SNY, been granted his release to pursue a transfer. The Nigerian sophomore averages nearly three rejections per contest in 32 games for the Red Storm last season, and will have two years of eligibility remaining wherever he ends up.
Obekpa's decision to transfer comes just one week after reserve swingman Max Hooper announced his intention to do the same after earning his degree a year ahead of schedule, thus making him eligible immediately. Obekpa, however, will need to complete an NCAA-mandated year in residence unless he is granted a hardship waiver, and his departure leaves St. John's shorter in the frontcourt, as 2013 Big East Rookie of the Year JaKarr Sampson declared for the NBA Draft in March.
At the moment, the Red Storm will return seven scholarship student-athletes for the 2014-15 season, but Lavin has reportedly been targeting several prospects for what he hopes will be yet another highly touted recruiting class as he enters his fifth campaign at the helm.