Chris Obekpa headed to St. John's

NEW YORK -- St. John's and head coach Steve Lavin scored a major recruiting coup Monday, when Chris Obekpa announced his intention of playing for the Red Storm next season.

"Keeping my talent in the MECCA," Obekpa tweeted, along with a photo of himself wearing a St. John's hat and T-shirt.

The 6-foot-8, 225-pound center, from Our Savior New American School on Long Island, was the No. 77-ranked high school senior in the country by ESPN Recruiting, and the 16th-best player at his position. He should help St. John's immediately -- particularly defensively with his shot-blocking ability, and on the boards.

Obekpa becomes the seventh member of this year's recruiting class, which was previously headlined by JaKarr Sampson, a 6-foot-8, 209-pound forward rated the No. 32 high school senior in the country by ESPN in 2011, before spending the past year at a prep school.

St. John's is coming off a 13-19 season in 2011-12, with Lavin missing practically all of it as he recuperated from prostate cancer surgery. Lavin is poised to return to the bench in the fall, and five of last year's six key contributors will be back as well, including leading scorer D'Angelo Harrison. Four of those five returnees are only entering their sophomore year.

Forward Moe Harkless, the Big East Rookie of the Year, elected to turn pro, and is expected to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft later this month.