It’s been nearly two months since the St. John’s men’s basketball team last took the court, but the college hoops offseason isn’t as calm as one might think.
That’s been especially true for the Red Storm over the last week, as two St. John’s stars found themselves back in the headlines.
After requesting and being granted a transfer waiver by the school earlier this month, Red Storm center Chris Obekpa, one of the nation’s more elite shot blockers, changed his mind and announced he will be returning to the university in the fall.
“After giving consideration to transferring, it has become clear that it makes the most sense to continue my career at St. John’s,” Obekpa said in a statement. “My brothers and I have unfinished business and I am determined to help St. John’s continue to climb up the mountain.”
Obekpa reportedly had a change of heart after meeting with St. John’s coach Steve Lavin last week. Additionally, Phil Greene IV, the Johnnies’ point guard and one of Obekpa’s closest friends at the school, helped start a movement on Twitter, asking fans to help him convince the Nigerian-born big man to stay through various social media platforms.
With Obekpa back in the fold and Christ the King High School star Adonis Delarosa committed to St. John’s, the loss of sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson to the NBA Draft should be lessened.
If Lavin manages to successfully recruit some of the junior college players he is scouting, the Johnnies have the potential to succeed next year, something they failed to do despite high expectations last season.
Exactly how successful the 2014-15 St. John’s season will ultimately rest in the hands of senior guard D’Angelo Harrison. The Texas native enjoyed a breakout junior season and was honored by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association with the prestigious Haggerty Award on Tuesday, given annually to the metropolitan area’s best player.
Harrison averaged 17.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game and led the Johnnies to a 20-11 record last season, which ended with a blowout loss at home to an inferior Robert Morris team in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament, the 32-team bracket reserved for schools that missed the NCAA tournament.
Sampson was named to the All-Metropolitan Second-Team, while former Christ the King star and Fordham freshman guard Jon Severe was given Rookie of the Year honors.