High School sports

Pallotti grad Tariq Owens talks about his Tennessee pledge

Pallotti forward/center Tariq Owens blocks a shot by Gilman guard Ben Grace.

Tariq Owens wasn't stressed out when Jim Christian was hired away from Ohio to coach Boston College last month. The Pallotti grad and Bobcats signee was, however, a little apprehensive about how his recruitment would play out the second time around.

"I just thought when I got my release [from Ohio], I didn't know how [the recruitment] was going to go," Owens said Wednesday. "I thought it was too late in the process for a school to pick back up and recruit again. I didn't know."


It didn't take long for Owens to get a satisfying answer. The former mid-major recruit had been elevated to high-major status, with Tennessee, Seton Hall, Temple and Dayton quickly emerging as the most interested parties. Earlier this month, Owens decided on the Volunteers.

"They were there since the beginning," Owens said. "They were one of the first schools who called me. They really stood out to me."


Owens said it was flattering for so many "high-profile schools" to come calling. Granted, it was hectic taking so many calls from coaches and setting up visits, but the 6-foot-10 ½, 190-pound forward was happy to do it. He ended up visiting Tennessee, Seton Hall and Temple. The trip to Knoxville stood out from the rest.

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"They had a huge arena," said Owens, a three-star prospect. "I feel like playing there, with the atmosphere and the nice arena, [we'll] get a lot of support from the fans."

Owens, who spent the past season as a post-grad player for Mount Zion Prep in Northeast Baltimore, will play the 4 for the Vols. His athleticism and defensive talent should translate well to Tennessee's system.

"Tariq is a very long, athletic and versatile post player," first-year Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall said in a news release. "For a guy his size, he has a really impressive skill level. He can step out and make 15- to 18-footers, and he certainly has the potential to impact the game at the defensive end early in his career."

Owens, who played AAU for Under Armour Bmore's Finest, echoed his coach's sentiments. He's looking forward to joining a team that went to the NCAA tournament last season but will have a new look after Cuonzo Martin took the Cal job and Tyndall came over from Southern Miss.

"I think it's really a good setup with Coach Tyndall," Owens said. "The system at Tennessee is run and gun. It fits my style of play. Coming in as a freshman, we have quite a few new players – eight signees – so there will be lots of competition. I'll just come in and work hard, really grind and buy in to the system.  … I'm just excited to be able to go to an SEC school that … gave me an opportunity to play."