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July 5, 2012Tweet
QUEENS, N.Y. - St. John's head men's basketball coach Steve Lavin officially added unanimous Top 100 prospect Christopher Obekpa to the 2012-13 Red Storm roster when the elite big man's signed financial aid agreement was confirmed this week.
Obekpa, ranked as a consensus Top 20 center by national recruiting services, joins what is now a diverse, seven-man 2012 recruiting class that complements St. John's five-man young returning core for the upcoming season.
Chris is one of the more unique talents I have recruited in my coaching career," said Lavin. "His stellar shot blocking abilities are as exceptional as any I've seen at this particular stage of a player's development. Chris brings a game-changing defensive presence and competitive spirit that will give us an edge. He has consistently demonstrated a high degree of intelligence with his unselfish approach to the game at both ends of the court. He is an excellent fit for our baseline-to-baseline attacking style of play."
Lavin's squad graduated an unprecedented 10 seniors in 2011. Equal to the task, Lavin has now signed 18 student-athletes since arriving at St. John's in March of 2010. St. John's could sign one additional student-athlete for 2012-13 should Lavin elect to do so. The Red Storm's 2011 recruiting class was rated No. 3 in the nation when completed last spring, and the 2012 group has been cited as high as No. 8 according to recruiting services.
As a senior in 2011-12, the Nigerian-born Obekpa led Our Savior New American school of Centereach, Long Island, N.Y., to a 25-5 record and a national Top 10 final ranking, according to MaxPreps.com. Averaging 12.0 points per game, 13.0 rebounds per contest and an intimidating 9.0 blocks per game as a senior, he was named a first team All-American by the National Association of Christian Athletes (NACA). He led OSNA to the title in the Puerto Rico Hoops Championship in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, with a MVP effort. He was also named game MVP at the National High School Hoops Fest at DeMatha in Hyattsville, Md., and the Penny Hardaway Hoops Fest in Memphis, Tenn. Following his senior season, Obekpa participated in the All-American Classic Championship at the 2012 NCAA Final Four in New Orleans, La., as part of the victorious East Squad.
Obekpa attended the Jordan Brand International camp in Istanbul, Turkey, in February, 2010, followed by the NBA "Basketball Without Borders" camp in South Africa in August, 2010, before becoming a starter on the Nigerian Under-16 national team. He arrived in the U.S. in Sept. of 2010 and keyed OSNA to a 17-10 record as a junior in 2010-11, averaging 10.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg and 5.0 bpg. In his first scholastic season in the U.S., he was named MVP at the Flyin' to the Hoop Tournament in Dayton, Ohio, the Texas Classic in Houston, Texas, and the Scholastic Play-by-Play Shootout in Chapel Hill, N.C. During the spring and summer of 2011 he exploded onto the national scene with a standout performance at the Nike LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio. His outstanding play led to his being named to the U.S. East Team for the Nike Global Challenge in Portland, Ore. He also played sweeper on OSNA's soccer team and was named the squad's defensive MVP.
"Chris Obekpa is an athletic and versatile frontcourt player who has a unique gift to be able to change the game from a defensive standpoint. St John's is getting one of the premier interior defenders in the country who will fit in perfect with their attacking defensive style," said Eric Jaklitsch, OSNA assistant coach. "Chris' offensive game is a lot better than he has been given credit for, as he looks to set up teammates and let the game come to him. He is an unselfish player and very few I have ever coached have shown a greater will to win than Chris; all he cared about was winning. He is excited to be able to play at St. John's and continue his career as a student-athlete in the BIG EAST and New York City."
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