Tariq Owens had a starting job waiting for him and was headed back to his natural position, as a stretch power forward. He had grown in his three years at St. John’s, developing into the Big East’s premier shot-blocker.
But that wasn’t enough for the 6-foot-11 forward. He wanted more, in terms of victories and development for the next level — and he felt he could get it at Texas Tech.
“We had expectations as a team. The fan base had their own expectations,” Owens said shortly after deciding to leave Queens for the Big 12 school. “We didn’t meet those expectations, and we had talent. Yeah, it could be worked on. But that’s what made me want to say I’ll see what else is out there. I found a situation that is better for me.”
“Nothing made me want to leave St. John’s per se. 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.”
Owens, who averaged 8.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.8 blocks last season, took visits to Maryland, his hometown school, and Texas Tech over the weekend. He considered staying at St. John’s after transferring there three years ago from Tennessee. But he felt going elsewhere was the better option.
Shamorie Ponds declares for draft but won’t turn back on St. John’s
OMAHA, Neb. — The expected became a reality Saturday afternoon…. Whereas the Red Storm haven’t finished higher than eighth in the Big East in coach Chris Mullin’s three seasons, the Red Raiders are coming off a 27-win season that culminated with a trip to the Elite Eight. He also was looking for a program where he would be more involved in the offense after averaging 6.8 shot attempts per game. It should be noted, Owens is more of a jump shooter than post-up player, and his scoring numbers did increase this season given more of an opportunity.
“It’s not just about getting more shots — it’s about me developing as a player,” said Owens, who is the 10th player to transfer or leave the program since Mullin took over three years ago.
Owens’ departure leaves St. John’s with three open scholarships and a massive hole in the paint. While 6-foot-9 South Carolina transfer Sedee Keita will almost certainly start up front from the start, the Red Storm will need to find a body to join him, and freshmen forward recruits Josh Roberts and Marcellus Earlington are seen as reserves next year.
Assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih met with North Carolina AT&T graduate transfer Femi Olujobi, a Long Island native and 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 16.6 points and 7.7 rebounds last year, on Sunday, and a visit is expected to follow, sources said.
St. John’s will also host three-star Oak Hill Academy (Va.) forward Maurice Calloo from April 27-29, according to a source. The plan is to take one immediately eligible forward, and two sit-out transfers to fill out the roster.