Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
St. John’s Obekpa ‘Possible’ for Villanova, Sanchez Out After Birth of Daughter
St. John’s could get one big man back just in time for their biggest game of the season, but will be without another.
Sophomore center Chris Obekpa could play in Saturday’s game against No. 9 Villanova — a game with huge NCAA Tournament implications for the Johnnies — while senior big man Orlando Sanchez is out because his wife, Flor Esthefani, had a baby daughter, the school announced.
“Our St. John’s basketball family congratulates Orlando and Flor on bringing newborn baby girl YsabelAngelaSanchez into the world,” coach SteveLavin said.
Lavin also said he wouldn’t “rule out” Obekpa playing, but he is by no means a certainty to play.
“He looked fine, he’s not limping or anything,” St. John’s junior JaKarr Sampson said Friday, according to the New York Post. “He looked like he’s ready to play tomorrow.”
Just three days ago, St. John’s said Obekpa could miss 10-14 days with a right ankle injury.
Obekpa and Sanchez combine to average 11.2 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.3 blocks.
The game will also mark a homecoming for Philadelphia native RysheedJordan, who expects to have a big contingent of family and friends at the Wells Fargo Center.
“We expect him to have a big game,” Sampson said. “No pressure on him. Just go out there and do his thing, facilitate, make open shots, create for others and play his game. Nothing different.”
ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi currently has the Johnnies as an 11 seed playing No. 6 UConn in the second round. But a win here would help give the Johnnies a marquee win down the stretch.
“Overall, the message is that if we continue to accumulate wins we control our own destiny,” Lavin said. “A win in a game against a Top 20 opponent is significant because it builds our resume and is an indication that the team is playing at a high level during the home stretch of the basketball season.”
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.