St. John’s announces transfer of center Chris Obekpa

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The first season of the Chris Mullin era at St. John’s will be an interesting one, not only due to the fact that a program legend is returning to campus for his first head coaching job but also because of how much was lost from last year’s NCAA tournament team. Three of their top four scorers ran out of eligibility and the fourth, point guard Rysheed Jordan, had academic issues that eventually led to him pursuing professional basketball.

Wednesday afternoon St. John’s announced that another player from last season’s team will be leaving the program. Center Chris Obekpa, a solid defender who struggled to become a consistent option on the offensive end of the floor, will transfer.

Obekpa, who averaged 5.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game last season, will have one season left to play after sitting out the 2015-15 campaign at whichever program his chooses.

“It was a great three years of growing here at St. John’s. I am forever grateful for the friends and family I have met during my time here,” Obekpa said in the release. “Much gratitude goes out to my coaches, teammates, professors and administrators for all of their love and support over the past three years.”

Obekpa’s request to be released from his scholarship last spring was granted by then-head coach Steve Lavin, with the Our Savior New American (Centereach, New York) product ultimately deciding to return to St. John’s for his junior season. The departure of the 6-foot-10 center means that St. John’s will have to account for the loss of its top six scorers from 2014-15.

In the interior the Red Storm return Amir Alibegovic and Christian Jones, with additions Yankuba Sims and Darien Williams (junior college transfer) joining the rotation. Tennessee transfer Tariq Owens will have to sit out the 2015-16 season, meaning that a team that didn’t have much depth to begin with is in an even tougher situation unless they can find a late addition or two this summer.