In the latest installment of As The Transfer Market Turns, we have the case of ex-St. John's center Chris Obekpa, who announced late last month his intent to transfer. Obepka has one year of eligibility remaining and is not a graduate, so he'll sit out the 2015-16 season, wherever he lands. NC State is reportedly one of his options, per Adam Zagoria, along with Arizona State, Minnesota, and Alabama.
The 6-10 center averaged 5.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks per game last season. He is a raw offensive player, with a career 2FG% of 44.9 despite a workload that's well below average. He is not likely to provide consistent offensive production at his next destination, but his value as a rim protector is significant. He led the nation in block percentage as a freshman and last year ranked 13th.
His physical tools make him an intriguing potential addition, but there is the matter of his, shall we say, colorful past. Last season, he was suspended for two weeks right around the start of the NCAA tournament, reportedly for a failed drug test. He was also ejected twice from games, one of them for an ugly flagrant foul.
And this is the second time he's announced a decision to transfer--he also did it following the 2014 season, only to change his mind shortly afterward. This passage in the New York Post raises red flags about Obekpa's attitude and work ethic:
A source said Obekpa didn't want to be part of Chris Mullin's program, in part because of the different manner in which it is being run, with stricter rules, more discipline and everyone being held accountable. Obekpa nearly transferred last season after receiving his release, but opted to change course and return.
And St. John's fans do not seem bothered much by his decision to leave the program, which may be the most telling thing.
With all that said, NC State's coaching staff is willing to take a chance on him, so we'll just have to trust their judgment. None of what's happened makes him a bad kid, and if he uses his transfer year wisely, he can become more of an impact player at the offensive end.
He's a bit of a gamble, for sure, but not necessarily a bad one.