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St. John's senior center Chris Obekpa to transfer

Chris Obekpa of the St. John's men's basketball

Chris Obekpa of the St. John's men's basketball team talks to reporters at the annual on-campus Media Day in Taffner Field House on Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. Credit: Uli Seit

Senior center Chris Obekpa, one of the leading shot-blockers in the country, has been granted permission to transfer, St. John's announced Wednesday.

Obekpa's departure means the two key players left from the Steve Lavin regime, including Rysheed Jordan, have left school since the arrival of new coach Chris Mullin.

"We respect Chris' decision and wish him well in his future endeavors," Mullin said in the statement.

In 95 games at St. John's, Obekpa averaged 4.5 points and 6.0 rebounds. He set school records for blocked shots for a career (321), single season (133) and game (11). He averaged 3.2 blocks per game as a junior.

"It was a great three years of growing here at St. John's," Obekpa said in the statement. "I am forever grateful for the friends and family I have met during my time here. Much gratitude goes out to my coaches, teammates, professors and administrators for all of their love and support over the past three years."

Obekpa, who attended Our Savior New American in Centereach, was suspended for two weeks in March for an undisclosed violation of school rules and missed St. John's NCAA Tournament game against San Diego State.

Jordan, who was facing academic eligibility questions, previously left St. John's to pursue a professional basketball career. Adonis De La Rosa, who never played last year because of eligibility issues, also transferred, as did his brother Joey, who was a walk-on. None of Lavin's incoming recruits, only one of whom had signed a national letter of intent, remain committed.

The only returning players are reserves Amir Alebegovic, Felix Balamou and Christian Jones. So Mullin essentially has a clean slate to begin building a solid foundation for the program.

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