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 Notebook: Obekpa a Gametime Decision for DePaul; Marcus LoVett & Father Likes St. John’s (UPDATED)
Chris Obekpa is a gametime decision for Wednesday’s game against DePaul.
Obekpa, who was taken out of the starting lineup as a punishment for a flagrant 2 foul committed against Butler, then sprained his right ankle in Saturday’s win over Creighton.
“We utilize our small lineup as frequently as possible, but have the flexibility to go bigger with one of the nation’s leading shot-blockers in the country in Chris Obekpa,” Red Storm coach Steve Lavin said Monday on a conference call. “Chris will continue to be an integral part of what we do this year. There are several options we can choose from with our personnel to make adjustments and play different styles. Overall, we were pleased with the chemistry of the lineups we put on the floor against Creighton.”
The Johnnies, who were among Joe Lunardi’s “First Four Out” in Monday’s mock NCAA bracket, are now 15-8, 4-6 in the Big East entering the DePaul game at Carnesecca Arena. Junior guard Felix Balamou will continue to start in Obekpa’s place.
“It’s just about waiting for the moment and being ready to play,” Balamou said. “I’m not really worried about myself, I’m worried about the team being successful as a group. I’m focusing on the team’s success right now.”
Said Lavin: “At practice recently he has been outstanding. I was impressed with his performance at the Butler game. He’ll continue to get the nod as a starter for the foreseeable future.”
LoVETT’S FATHER LIKES ST. JOHN’SSt. John’s has just two commits for 2015 in guards Samir Doughty and Brandon Sampson, but hopes to add a third in 6-foot Chicago point guard Marcus LoVett.
And LoVett seems high on New York.
“NY seems like a nice place to go,” he Tweeted Tuesday night.
Lovett’s father, Marcus LoVett Sr., says the Johnnies are working the hardest for his son.
“Basically it’s St. John’s, there’s nobody else,” LoVett Sr. told SNY.tv by phone on Monday.
St. John’s loses a core of players next year including guards D’Angelo Harrison, Phil Greene IV and Jamal Branch and wing Sir’Dominic Pointer. Obekpa and sophomore guard Rysheed Jordan could also opt to turn pro.
“I mean, they need guards, they’re losing like five players, right?” LoVett Sr. said. “That’s what Steve [Lavin] told me.”
LoVett was supposed to visit last month for the Duke game, when 2015 forward Cheick Diallo sat behind the bench, but was unable to make it.
“We wanted to visit for the Duke game, really disappointed that we didn’t get to make it for that,” LoVett Sr. said. “That was a good opportunity. You might be able to sneak him in there and maybe play a few minutes.”
He added: “I really like St. John’s, I think it’s a good spot.”
He also said: “I really like New York for my son…The way he’s been marketed so far, just opinion-wise, has been questionable.”
The elder LoVett said Seton Hall assistant Tiny Morton had also been in touch, but that St. John’s is working the hardest.
“I just go by what they show, not just by the conversations on the phone,” he said. “Until we really get to know one another, we’re just having conversations. That’s how it is with the coaches. Unless the head coach walks into the home or the gym or wherever, you never know.”
LoVett Sr. said his son will be an unselfish point guard wherever he lands.
“He’ll be a lot more unselfish and team-oriented once he gets four other legitimate players at their respective positions,” he said. “In four years of high school basketball, he’s never had that. It’s a different world.”
LoVett Sr. said his son had no timetable on deciding.
“No, he’s not in a rush,” he said.
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.