Maybe UNLV should change its nickname to the Blockin’ Rebels.
Dave Rice’s squad, which had two of the nation’s top shot blockers last season in center Goodluck Okonoboh and forward Chris Wood, landed a player who finished higher in that statistic than both of them in St. John’s transfer Chris Obekpa.
The 6-foot-10, 235-pound Obekpa, who has 321 career blocks and led the Big East Conference in blocks three straight years, finished fifth nationally last season with an average of 3.13 blocks per game. Okonoboh, who returns for his sophomore season, was ninth (2.9) while Wood, who signed a free agent contract with the Houston Rockets, was 17th (2.73).
Obekpa, a native of Nigeria, will have to sit out the 2015-16 season per NCAA transfer rules and has one year of eligibility remaining. He visited UNLV on Monday and Tuesday and announced his decision via his Instagram on Wednesday (SEE BELOW).
— Obekpa chris (@obekpa12) August 5, 2015
Obekpa brings his share of baggage with him from St. John’s where he had multiple off-the-court issues. He was suspended for two exhibition games his sophomore year for violating university rules, and he was suspended for the NCAA Tournament last season after he tested positive for marijuana use. He was also ejected from two games last season.
The New York Post, quoting an unnamed source, said Obekpa decided to transfer to play his senior season in part because of the different manner St. John’s program is being run under new coach Chris Mullin, who replaced Steve Lavin after last season and implemented stricter rules, more discipline and increased player accountability.