Texas Tech center Tariq Owens just continues to harass shooters, huh? The 6-foot-10 5th-year senior has the 10th-best block rate nationally per Ken Pomeroy, and just got finished harassing Michigan State in the Final Four with 3 blocks, despite a scary-looking leg injury.
Against the other Michigan school in the Sweet 16, he swatted 2 more and affected far more to stifle the Wolverines to just 44 points. Most impressively 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 national championship. They have to get through No. 1 seed Virginia (9:20 p.m. EST, CBS).
Owens’ journey to Lubbock this year was a long and winding road. Let’s take a look at his high school, 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, Maryland. After 4 years there, he spent a prep year at Mt. Zion Prep in Baltimore, Maryland, where he played for coach Rodrick Harrison.
According to the Baltimore Sun, “In high school, he was cut from the junior varsity at Arundel. After transferring to Pallotti, he played on the team’s varsity, then spent a postgraduate year at Mt. Zion Prep in Lanham.”
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. With one more win, he could be on the No. 1 team in the country, period.