Chris Obekpa, who transferred from St. John's in June, has found a new home for his shot-blocking skills, committing to UNLV today, per Jon Rothstein.
The Nigerian center, one of the best shot-blockers in the country, will be eligible in 2016-2017 for Nevada-Las Vegas. He will be a senior and have one year of NCAA eligibility remaining.
Obekpa, a 6'10" shot blocking force for St. John's, averaged six points, seven rebounds and three blocks per game for the Red Storm as the main post presence. His efforts transformed a team that often played four-guard lineups into one that could still defend the paint.
But he made negative headlines by getting suspended just before the NCAA Tournament (for marijuana use, it is said), one of many negative moments of Obekpa's St. John's tenure.
Injuries, flagrant fouls against Butler and against Fordham, transferring from St. John's after his sophomore season only to change his mind two weeks later - all contributed to the image of Obekpa being a distraction, unreliable, and possibly unwilling to work to improve his game and mindset.
Obekpa visited Minnesota only to have the Golden Gophers back off of him in July; at the time, he had interest from Arizona State, Alabama and North Carolina State.
It's a long strange trip for Obekpa, who went to Our Savior New American High School on Long Island like his teammate, senior Felix Balamou.
"It was a great three years of growing here at St. John's," Obekpa said when he left the program. "I am forever grateful for the friends and family I have met during my time here. Much gratitude goes out to my coaches, teammates, professors and administrators for all the love and support over the past three years."
Las Vegas allows Obekpa to join forces with shot blocker Goodluck Okonoboh and some solid wings to compete in the Mountain West Conference, where Dave Rice's recruiting has been far stronger than his on-court results for the Runnin' Rebels.
And perhaps a change of scenery will do the talented Nigerian good. He has the talent to be successful.From Obekpa's Instagram: