St. John’s Forward Chris Obekpa Transfers to UNLV

Former St. John's forward Chris Obekpa, the nation's leading shot blocker in 2014-15, has decided to transfer to UNLV. He will sit out the 2015-16 season, due to transfer regulations, and will have one season of eligibility left in 2016-17.
Former St. John’s forward Chris Obekpa, the nation’s fifth-leading shot blocker in 2014-15, has decided to transfer to UNLV. He will sit out the 2015-16 season, due to transfer regulations, and will have one season of eligibility left in 2016-17.

Remember the old age story, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”? Everybody ran to help the boy when he said he saw a wolf, only to find out he was lying. When the boy actually saw the wolf and called for help, nobody came to help him in the end.

The NCAA almost had their own version of that story, thanks to St. John’s forward Chris Obekpa.

Following the 2013-14 season, Obekpa announced his plans to transfer from St. John’s for the remainder of his NCAA career. With the talent that Obekpa possesses, teams would have surely lined up for his services.

However, Obekpa cried “wolf” and changed his mind just two weeks after his initial decision, opting to return to the Red Storm.

Following the 2014-15 season, Obekpa decided to transfer yet again, leaving people wondering if this was going to be a repeat of the offseason prior. On Wednesday, Obekpa made his transfer official, committing to UNLV.

Chris Obekpa, a native of Nigeria, has been one of the nation’s best shot blockers over the past three seasons. As a freshman, he averaged 4.0 blocks per game, and has averaged at least 2.9 blocks per game over the course of his career.

While Obekpa has a big presence on the defensive end of the floor, he doesn’t have a large impact on the game on the offensive end of the floor. Last season, he averaged 5.8 points per game on 46.2% shooting from the floor. He only averaged just over 4 field goal attempts per contest, skewing his field goal percentage slightly.

Despite him being an on-court talent, Obekpa’s off-court troubles raise some concerns going forward. The big man was suspended for an undisclosed violation of team rules prior to the Red Storm’s NCAA Tournament game against San Diego State. He was also ejected from games against Fordham and Butler last season for flagrant fouls, showing a lack of poise and reliability in those instances.

His decision to UNLV shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the Rebels have a history of giving troubled players a second chance. The Rebels brought in Jelan Kendrick, who was dismissed from Memphis, and Iowa State’s Bryce Dejean-Jones both as transfer players, and they turned out to be impact players.

Dave Rice and the Rebels are hoping that the change of scenery will help Obekpa and make him a more consistent and reliable player, although moving to a city that’s full of off-court distractions like Las Vegas may have its challenges.

If Obekpa can turn things around and become a consistent producer, he will add to what is an already solid front court. The Rebels already have shot-blocking big man Goodluck Okonoboh, Oregon transfer Ben Carter, and talented freshman Stephen Zimmerman in the mix.

Due to transfer regulations, Obekpa will sit out the 2015-16 season, and will have one year of eligibility left for the Rebels in 2016-17.

– T.B.