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St. John's forward Tariq Owens (Pallotti) granted release; Maryland reportedly interested

St. John's forward Tariq Owens (Pallotti) granted release; Maryland reportedly interested
St. John's forward Tariq Owens (11) gestures from the bench area during the second overtime of a game against Georgetown on Jan. 20 in Washington. The Hoyas won, 93-89, in double overtime. (Nick Wass / AP)

St. John’s men’s basketball junior forward Tariq Owens has been granted a release from the school, and Maryland is expected to pursue the former Odenton resident as a graduate transfer, according to reports.

The 6-foot-11, 205-pound Owens averaged 8.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for the Red Storm this season, starting in 26 of 33 games. He shot 50.4 percent from the field and 69 percent from the foul line in 30-plus minutes per game.

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Owens attended St. Vincent Pallotti before spending a postgraduate year at Mt. Zion Prep. After limited action as a freshman at Tennessee, he transferred to St. John’s and sat out a year, meaning he would be a fifth-year senior next season.

The New York Post reported Tuesday that Owens has received his release to transfer, and 247Sports reported that Maryland will be on his “short list." A return to St. John's is also a possibility.

In a tweet Thursday, Owens’ father, Renard, wrote that the decision to request a release “is not a personal decision” but a “business decision on what's best for Tariq at this time. ... This is to explore Tariq Owens [sic] options and see if it's a better option for him and his basketball career."

With the graduation of Michal Cekovsky and Sean Obi and NBA draft decisions from Bruno Fernando and Justin Jackson still pending, Maryland’s frontcourt depth is uncertain heading into next season. Five-star forward Jalen Smith projects as a starter, and if either Fernando or Jackson returns, Owens would likely have to come off the bench.

Before moving into the starting five for the Red Storm, he thrived in an early-season reserve role.

“Tariq is probably our most important player. The only reason I take him off the bench is because he can play any position,” coach Chris Mullin told the New York Post. “He can go in [as a sub] and our lineup is fine.”

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