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Chris Obekpa to stay at St. John's

I loved the TV show "Change of Heart" as much as the next person.


Steve Lavin announced today that shot-blocking 6'9" center Chris Obekpa would stay at St. John's and not transfer; he had asked to be released from his scholarship in early April.

"Chris approached me last week to communicate his change of heart and wishes to stay at St. John's," said Steve Lavin. "After good dialogue we are pleased to announce Chris will continue his career as a student-athlete with the Red Storm."

"I've had good conversations with Coach Lavin over the past week. After giving consideration to transferring it's become clear that it makes the most sense to continue my career as a student-athlete at St. John's," said Obekpa. "I will do whatever is necessary to win back the trust of my coaches, teammates and our fans. My brothers and I have unfinished business and I am determined to help St. John's continue the climb up the mountain."

Chris Obekpa will return to a team that went 20-13, disappointing down the stretch. With Obekpa's return, next season looks filled with more potential despite the loss of five players this offseason.

Obekpa 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.

With increased maturity from the backcourt of Rysheed Jordan and D`Angelo Harrison, Obekpa can deliver on the promise of his improved offensive presence next season.

The team has brought in large Adonis Delarosa and expects his brother Joey Delarosa to play with him, giving the team a pair of near-seven-footers to back up Obekpa.

The Johnnies are also looking at rebounding forward Keith Thomas, Chicago forward Marlon Jones, and Chicago wing Josh Cunningham.

Unlike last week, however, the need for those players is less dire than it is today.