St. John's graduate transfer Tariq Owens (Pallotti) picks Texas Tech over Maryland

Former St. John’s men’s basketball center Tariq Owens, a 6-foot-11, 205-pound Odenton native who will be eligible to play as a graduate transfer next season, announced Monday that he will finish his much-traveled college career at Texas Tech.

Owens, who graduated from St. Vincent Pallotti and spent a postgraduate year at Mount Zion Prep, picked the Red Raiders over Maryland and the Red Storm after his visit to Lubbock this past weekend. Owens had visited College Park earlier last week.

It marks the third stop for Owens, who began his career at Tennessee before transferring to St. John’s, where he was former Red Storm star and current coach Chris Mullin’s first recruit.

Owens will not enter a crowded depth chart at Teas Tech. The Red Raiders lost five seniors to graduation, including big men Zach Smith and Tommy Hamilton, as well as leading scorer Keenan Evans. Under second-year coach Chris Beard, Texas Tech finished 27-10 and lost to eventual national champion Villanova in the school’s first-ever NCAA tournament appearance in the Elite Eight.

Owens will also reunite with Al Pinkins, an assistant under Chris Beard who worked in the same role at Tennessee when Owens was a freshman in Knoxville.

The decision by Owens comes three days after Maryland freshman center Bruno Fernando announced plans to make himself available for the NBA draft but not sign with an agent.

Though Fernando has until May 30 to return for his sophomore year, the Terps are looking for insurance in their depleted frontcourt in case he forgoes his remaining college eligibility.

Owens, who played two years at St. John’s, averaged career highs of 8.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and a Big East Conference-best 2.8 blocked shots last season in a little more than 30 minutes per game.

Maryland currently has three scholarships available after the recent announcements that sophomore forward Justin Jackson will sign with an agent and enter the NBA draft and that redshirt junior Dion Wiley will transfer after he graduates next month.

Maryland also had another potential graduate transfer, 6-11, 230-pound forward Trey Porter of Old Dominion, for an unofficial visit on Friday.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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