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.
Chris Obekpa remains one of the most coveted uncommitted recruits of the late signing period.
The 6-foot-9 shot-blocker from Our Savior New American took an official to St. John’s this past weekend and will next head to Oregon.
“Chris enjoyed his official visit to St Johns this past weekend,” Our Savior assistant Eric Jaklitsch said by email. “He had been to campus and games a few times but there is only so much you can do on an unofficial visit. He had the chance to watch workouts on Friday and then went out to dinner with the coaching staff and JaKarr Sampson at night. The next day he was able to take a tour of Madison Square Garden and see some sites around New York City he had not seen before. At night he was able to hangout with the coaches and JaKarr while watching the NCAA tournament games.”
The Johnnies have landed Sampson and 6-3 wing Felix Balamou, Obekpa’s high school teammate, and would love to add Obekpa as a shot-blocking big in the Big East.
“St Johns needs him to come in and play up front,” Jaklitsch said. “They only had one big guy this year with God’sGift [Achiuwa] so adding frontcourt players was one of their priorities. They would play Chris to his strengths which are rebounding and shot-blocking.
“Chris is a much better offensive player than most of the public thinks. All of the coaches realize that he has a good offensive skills. He can pass the ball very well, he is unselfish around the basket and always looks for cutters. He has good form on his jumper. He just needs to make a few minor adjustments. St John’s is going to play fast and that is what Chris is capable of doing. He is one of the top interior defenders in the country with a enormous upside on his offensive game. [Head coach Steve] Lavin would love to have him and Jakaar play next to each other.”
Jaklitsch stressed that Obekpa’s situation is separate and apart from Balamou’s.
“Felix’s recruitment was separate from Chris’s,” Jaklitsch said. “St John’s recruited Felix just like any of their other recruits. Lavin saw enough of him every time he came to see Chris that he fell in love with Felix’s game. A lot of schools started getting involved at the end but the kid wanted to stay in New York City. Chris was happy for Felix when he committed to St John’s.
“The two of them played Sunday and Monday night in the historic CYP tournament in Portchester, N.Y., and are in the finals tonight at 7:30. Felix scored 19 and 28 points and Chris had 25 points and 13 points in each of the two games. They are trying to win the championship tonight.”
Obekpa will be in New Orleans this weekend and competing in the All-American Championship Game for the East team.
Obekpa has taken officials to DePaul, Cincinnati and St. John’s and unofficials to Providence and UConn. Next up is an official visit to Oregon.
“They have been recruiting him hard the past several months and he wants to go see what the school is all about,” Jaklitsch said. “He has seen them play on TV a few times this year and likes their style of play. He knows one of their current recruits in point guard Dominic Artis from the Lebron James Skills Academy. He will still have one remaining visit after that but hasn’t decided on where he will visit yet. ”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.