St. Johns Red Storm News: Chris Okbepa Transferring


St. Johns Red Storm Center Chris Obekpa Transferring

The job for Chris Mullin in his first season as the head coach of the St. John’s Red Storm became much more difficult Wednesday. After losing Rysheed Jordan earlier in the month of June, as he decided to begin his professional career, Mullin and the Red Storm will now be without Chris Obekpa. The starting Center has decided to transfer for real this time, after flirting with the idea following his Sophomore season before ultimately deciding to come back for his Junior year.

In his Junior year with the Red Storm, Obekpa averaged 5.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Where he makes his biggest impact though is on the defensive end, where he averaged 3.1 blocks per game, tops in the Big East and fifth in the nation. He will leave the program as the all-time leader in shots blocked with 321, most in a season with 133 and most in a single game with 11.

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Obekpa had a tenuous career at times with St. John’s and is probably part of the reason that he is transferring for his final season of eligibility. The 6-feet-9 inch Senior is a difference maker on the defensive end, but sometimes let’s his emotions get the best of him. He was suspended for a game this past season when he elbowed Tyler Wideman of Butler in the head.

He also hurt the team badly when tournament time came around. He received a two-week suspension on March 15th for violating team rules. That forced him to miss St. John’s Round of 64 NCAA Tournament game, which they eventually lost to the San Diego State Aztecs. They sorely missed Obekpa’s presence inside, as the Aztecs best offense is to miss a shot, grab an offensive rebound and get the dirty points inside. Without their starting center, that is exactly what happened as the Red Storm were unable to overcome the size differential in the middle.

This is a huge blow to St. John’s and Mullin for next season. Like when they lost Obekpa, along with Jordan, were the two players he was expected to rely heavily on next season. They are the only two returning players with real playing experience in college. D’Angelo Harrison, Phil Greene IV, Jamal Branch and Sir’Dominic Pointer are all graduated, leaving the Red Storm without any leadership for next season.

It will be trying season with Obekpa protecting the paint, but Mullin didn’t come to St. John’s expecting a cakewalk in bringing the program back to prominence. Having Obekpa and Jordan would have helped, but now he will have to hope younger, less experienced players can step up and help get the program back on track.

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