Like JaKarr Sampson and Max Hooper before him, St. John's sophomore center Chris Obekpa has chosen to leave the program. According to sources - and reported by SNY and the NY Daily News - Obekpa has been given his release to transfer from the Red Storm program.
Obekpa, a 6'9" center, has been known for his statistically dominant shot blocking - which landed him in the top-three nationally in percentage of opponent shots blocked (15.7%) and earned him the top spot last season (15.8%).
His efforts have launched St. John's from a poor defensive team to a squad that improved its 2-point defense from 250th in the nation to 40th - a leap that coincided with St. John's winning records in the past two years.
The Nigerian center's offensive game has improved as well, with more confidence at the rim. Obekpa used his quick hops to throw down dunks off of passes and even flashed hints of post moves.
No word on where Obekpa will go next. As a strong defensive force, he has improved his accuracy from the field, but could become a more dominant rebounder, on-ball defender and draw more fouls.
For St. John's, the only returning forward is 6'7" Christian Jones, coming off of a redshirt after averaging 9.4 minutes per game in 24 contests in 2012-13.
St. John's now has seven returning scholarship players and six open scholarships - the three graduated seniors, Achiuwa, Sanchez and Bourgault plus the departed Hooper, Sampson and Obekpa. Only God`sGift Achiuwa is from Lavin's second recruiting class; the other five players all joined the program in 2012.
CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello reports that Oregon and Baylor could be landing spots for Obekpa.