Steve’s Storm Tracker: Red Storm Will Struggle Unless Recruiting Needs Are Met

After a tough ending to the St. John’s men’s basketball team’s season, an 89-78 loss to Robert Morris in the NIT, players now seem to be jumping ship. Last week, the Red Storm lost sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson to the NBA Draft and on Tuesday, the Johnnies lost another big man in Sophomore Forward Chris Obekpa, who is now transferring.

Chris Obekpa was a game changer for St. John’s as he led the nation during his freshman season with 4.03 blocks per game. This past season, Obekpa continued his rim protection prowess as he led the Big East with 2.9 blocks per game. Although Obekpa only played two seasons with the Red Storm, he is the school’s all-time blocks leader with 227 career blocks.

JaKarr Sampson might have been St. John’s best player throughout his two years playing for the Red Storm. In his collegiate career at St. John’s, Sampson averaged 13.9 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game. In his freshman campaign, he was the best freshman throughout the Big East in the 2012-13 season as he was named the Big East Rookie of the Year.

On top of Obekpa and Sampson leaving St. John’s early, the Red Storm are also going to be without two graduating seniors in forward God’sgift Achiuwa and forward Orlando Sanchez.  Achiuwa averaged 2.5 points per game and 2.1 rebounds per game in his senior campaign and Sanchez averaged 7.4 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game in the 2013-14 season.

So, the biggest question St. John’s is facing is how will they replace all of this production? The answer, for now, is that they can’t replace the players who are leaving. The roster the Red Storm have of now is very undersized and have no one who has shown the abilities of guys like Obekpa, Sampson, Achiuwa and Sanchez.

The odds for success are definitely stacked against St. John’s as the Red Storm are not only losing a tremendous amount of athleticism and production, but they also have no recruits signed for 2014.

The departure of the aforementioned players leaves St. John’s with ten players on their roster and six open scholarship positions. The departure of these players was definitely something Lavin and Co. were not expecting and now they have to scramble to recruit and find some guys or this team will really struggle to be competitive.

Lavin and Co. seemed to realize this need immediately as the New York Post reported that Lavin made an unofficial visit to Westchester Community College to visit with big man Keith Thomas. Thomas was the Division I Junior College leader in rebounds this past season.

Thomas would definitely fulfill a huge void left by the departure of Sampson, Obekpa, Sanchez, and Achiuwa. But to be competitive St. John’s will need more than one key addition if they want to be the team they expect to be next season.

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