St. John's grants release for Chris Obekpa

St. John's center Chris Obekpa shoots a free St. John's center Chris Obekpa shoots a free throw during the second half against Georgia Tech on Nov. 30, 2013. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Maddie Meyer

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Roster shrinkage continued at St. John's Thursday when the school announced it has granted a release for sophomore center Chris Obekpa, one of the leading shot-blockers in the country, to transfer. The move comes on the heels of JaKarr Sampson's decision to enter the NBA draft and Max Hooper's decision to transfer and leaves the Red Storm with seven scholarship players.

"We wish Chris good luck as he moves toward his next opportunity," coach Steve Lavin said in a statement.

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The 6-9 Obekpa led the NCAA as a freshman with 4.03 blocks per game and led the Big East last season with 2.9 blocks to go with 3.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He must sit out a season before he is eligible to resume playing.

The loss leaves St. John's with six available scholarships and no player taller than 6-7, but the Red Storm is in the forefront of the battle for 7-foot Adonis Delarosa of Christ the King. His 7-foot older brother Joey transferred to St. John's last year from Florida International and will be eligible in December. The Red Storm also is pursuing 6-7 Westchester Community College forward Keith Thomas, who averaged 15.0 points and 15.0 rebounds per game.

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