- Last Updated: 2:47 AM, November 15, 2012
- Posted: 12:44 AM, November 15, 2012
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Ever since Manute Bol came out of Africa with his 7-foot-7 frame and fascinating tale of having killed a lion with a spear, the American media has taken to romanticizing every player from that region.
So before we lionize St. John’s freshman Chris Obekpa, who set a team record with eight blocked shots Tuesday afternoon in the Red Storm’s 77-74 win over Detroit, let’s take a step back. The Johnnies opponent on Tuesday was a quality mid-major team, but mid-major nonetheless. There have been scores of Big East players who have looked like NBA first-rounders in the non-conference portion of the schedule only to sit the bench against the big boys.
Obekpa, a 6-foot-8 forward/center, is going to be a central figure this season for the Johnnies. But we’ll have a better assessment of his skill level after this week’s Charleston Classic, which begins Thursday with the Red Storm (1-0) opening against the College of Charleston (1-0).
“In two years with Chris, never once did he ask me how many points he had,’’ Eric Jaklitsch, Obekpa’s assistant coach at Our Savior New American prep school on Long Island, told The Post.
“The only thing he cares about is winning.” He’s asked me how many rebounds he had or how many blocked shots because he knows that’s what wins games. What St. John’s fans saw the other night is just the beginning.’’ Perhaps. But one thing was certain in watching Obekpa, whom The Post has dubbed Oblockpa: He is a fierce competitor.
After blocking a shot on Tuesday, Obekpa let out a scream of joy. Later he stared down Detroit’s P.J. Boutte, who was trying to distract Phil Greene, Obekpa’s roommate, on the free throw line.
Jaklitsch said Obekpa always has been the consummate team player.
‘He was playing in a Nike AAU tournament in the spring of his junior year and he called me and said he had hurt his hand,’’ recalled Jaklitsch. “When he got off the plane I looked at his hand and knew it was a serious injury.
“We went right to the doctor and he had a broken bone that needed surgery. The first thing he said to the doctor was, ‘I’ve got a game in two weeks. Will I be able to play?’ He played three games out there and blocked about 20 shots with a broken right hand and didn’t complain.’’Follow @NYPostsports