St. John’s Suspends Junior Center Chris Obekpa for Two Weeks

Sunday night brought good and bad news for the St. John’s Red Storm. The good news, of course, was that Steve Lavin’s squad made it to its first NCAA Tournament since 2011, drawing a 9-seed in the South bracket and a matchup with San Diego State on March 20 at 9:40 p.m.

The bad news is that the Johnnies will need to play that game—and every possible game up until the Final Four, should it advance that far—without junior center Chris Obekpa. The 6-10 big man from Nigeria has been suspended for two weeks due to a violation of team rules. Obekpa is averaging 5.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game.

From ESPN:

St. John’s has suspended junior center Chris Obekpa for two weeks for a violation of team rules.


The school announced Sunday that the suspension would include any postseason games this season until March 29. Among them will be the ninth-seeded Red Storm’s NCAA tournament opener Friday against eighth-seeded San Diego State in a second-round South Region game in Charlotte, North Carolina.


“All of the young men associated with our program are held to standards consistent with the aims and mission of our University,” coach Steve Lavin said in a statement. “Accountability is tied to the decision making of our student-athletes. It is our hope Chris will learn from this experience.”


Lavin told ESPN that it wouldn’t have been ethical to withhold the announcement of Obekpa’s suspension until after Sunday’s NCAA tournament reveal. An NCAA official said the suspension could have affected the Red Storm but did not say if that regarded selection or seeding.