Chris Mullin wasted little time since accepting the head coaching position at his alma mater. The new St. John’s coach has offered several local recruits and hired a key assistant coach in Matt Abdelmassih. On Monday night, during the national championship game, it was reported that Mullin will retain one of his key returners.
Chris Obekpa, the shotblocking junior, will reportedly stay at St. John’s for his senior season, according to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. Obekpa, the only big man on the St. John’s roster last season, was suspended for two weeks on March 15, hours before Selection Sunday.
Following a season-ending loss to San Diego State in the Round of 64, Steve Lavin said to reporters, “I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he doesn’t return to St. John’s.” Six days later, Lavin and St. John’s agreed to part ways after five seasons.
Obekpa averaged 5.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. The 6-foot-10 Obekpa was one of two players Mullin was looking to retain. The other being sophomore guard Rysheed Jordan, who finished second on the team in scoring. According to a report on Monday night from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Jordan is also leaning toward returning to St. John’s as well.
Even if Jordan rejoins Obekpa and the Johnnies, Mullin will still have his work cut out for him, as no other returner averaged more than 9.0 minutes per game last season, and Brandon Sampson, the program’s top commit, reopened his recruitment on Lavin left.