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.
As St. John’s Awaits Selection Sunday, School Says Obekpa Suspended 2 Weeks (UPDATED)
Just a few hours before Selection Sunday, St. John’s announced that head coach Steve Lavin has suspended junior big man Chris Obekpa for two weeks for violation of team rules.
Sources confirmed to SNY.tv that Obekpa’s suspension was related to a failed drug test for marijuana use. Obekpa was also suspended two exhibition games in October 2013 for a violation of University policy. He considered transferring after last season, but head coach Steve Lavin talked him into coming back.
St. John’s is the No. 9 seed in the South Region and will face No. 8 San Diego State on Friday in Charlotte, with the winner likely to get No. 1 Duke.
If St. John’s were to advance in the postseason, Obekpa would not be available for the Red Storm’s games prior to March 29, the school said.
“Chris has been suspended for a violation of team rules,” said Lavin. “All of the young men associated with our program are held to standards consistent with the aims and mission of our University. Accountability is tied to the decision making of our student-athletes. It is our hope Chris will learn from this experience.”
St. John’s was already not a deep team, playing a six-man rotation plus backup big man Joey Dela Rosa. Now they are much thinner without their lone legitimate big man and best rim protector.
Obekpa started 24 of 30 appearances for the Red Storm, averaging 5.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-10 center led the Big East and ranks fifth in the country averaging 3.2 blocks per game. Obekpa had two double-doubles during the regular-season and grabbed at least 10 boards in six contests. He swatted 94 shots this season and holds the program’s record with 321 blocks over his career.
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.