Texas Tech center Tariq Owens is one of the best shot-blockers in America. The 6-foot-10 5th-year senior has the 11th-best block rate nationally per Ken Pomeroy, and just got finished harassing Michigan in the Sweet 16 with 2 blocks and several other affected shots.
In an early December game against Memphis, he swatted 8 shots in an 11-point win. He adds just under 9 points and 6 rebounds per game for the Red Raiders, who are on the doorstep of the program’s first-ever Final Four. They have to get through No. 1 seed Gonzaga in the West Regional final (6:09 p.m. EST, CBS).
Owens’ journey to Lubbock this year was a long and winding road. Let’s take a look at his recruitment and subsequent college career.
Tariq Owens Recruitment
Owens graduated from St. Vincent Pallotti High School, a Catholic high school just 30 minutes south of Baltimore in the town of Odenton (Md.). 247 Sports ranked him as a 3-star power forward and the No. 174 overall prospect in the 2014 class.
His father Renard, a Baltimore police officer, told Evan Daniels of 247Sports in May 2014 that Tariq would be committing to play at Tennessee. Owens chose the Volunteers over offers from Temple, Florida State, Miami, Ohio, Richmond, Seton Hall, St. Joseph’s and VCU.
Transfer to St. John’s
He played sparingly in just one season in Knoxville, deciding to transfer to St. John’s to play under NBA Hall of Famer big man Chris Mullin. Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall recruited Owens originally but was fired due to reports that he tried to cover up evidence in an NCAA violation investigation.
“We wanted to see what his plans for the team were moving forward, see if it was a good fit,” Renard Owens said to the Baltimore Sun at the time. “Based on those conversations, Tennessee didn’t appear to be as good of a fit anymore. That’s when we started it. We looked to see where else could be a good fit.”
Tariq and his family decided on St. John’s due to Mullin’s NBA pedigree, as well as some local family connections.
“We have a family situation; his great grandmother is there in a nursing home,” said Renard, who was born and raised in Queens. “She played an integral part in my life. Him having her close by was one of the determining factors.”
After sitting out the 2015-16 season, Owens averaged 6.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks for the Red Storm.
Transfer to Texas Tech
For his final season, Owens decided to part ways with Mullin and the Johnnies, eventually landing in Lubbock with Chris Beard. He told the New York Post’s Zach Braziller that he wasn’t satisfied with the team’s record, which was just 30-36 in 2 seasons.
“Nothing made me want to leave St. John’s per say,” Owens told Braziller. “It’s my last year. It hasn’t gone how we expected it to go, for everybody not just me. We expected ourselves to be somewhere else we didn’t get to. That alone would make anybody weigh their options.”
According to SB Nation’s Rumble in the Garden, Beard needed a center to replace the 6-foot-11 Tommy Hamilton due to transfer.
He now is the centerpiece for Texas Tech’s No. 1 efficiency defense nationally per Ken Pomeroy. Also, he’s on his winningest team yet, as the Red Raiders are currently 29-6.