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Tariq Owens requests release for transfer

Not a sure thing to leave, but the 6’11” shot-blocker could go as a grad transfer.

Tariq Owens shoots over Kerem Kanter
Wendell Cruz

Like Amar Alibegovic two years ago, Tariq Owens is going to look around the transfer market.

Owens’ father took to Twitter to speak about his son’s decision, which he reiterates is a business decision — not grown from some animosity about Owens’ role.

Having transferred during his college career means that he is on track to graduate before his four years of playing eligibility is used up, which means he can spend a year toward a graduate degree — and transfer with no break in his playing time. (Marvin Clark II is in the same boat, and Justin Simon, Sedee Keita, and Mikey Dixon will also have the option, provided they concentrate in their studies.)

The first thought, of course, should be “dammit!”

At 6’11” but quick, Tariq Owens has been an integral part of the St. John’s defense under Chris Mullin, a revelation after a year at Tennessee where he was little-used. His shot blocking has been elite, his defensive rebounding is solid, and despite his size, he is a decent defender in the post with occasional help.

His offense has been solid in bursts, with a jump shot that has emerged in his two years out to the three-point line (he shot 33% on threes in Big East play, 32% in all games), and the speed to be a consistent scoring threat in transition or catching lobs.

Will Owens actually transfer?

Two years ago, Amar Alibegovic requested his release, but after looking around, decided to return. Chris Obekpa did the same four years ago.

Tariq Owens is a more productive big man than those two, and bigs are always in demand. He has talent, and may want a place where he can find a few more shots; Shamorie Ponds and Justin Simon operate with the ball in their hands, and Marvin Clark adds outside scoring punch. Mikey Dixon and Sedee Keita are expected to look for their shots.

On the other hand, St. John’s has a chance to be much better than this season, and Owens gets solid exposure on the team — and his teammates know how to find him on offense. His game is unique; on the high-major level, few forwards are as skinny but play major minutes in the post (Syracuse's Pascal Chukwu is one of the few comps).

Owens should be a starter; one can imagine a lineup of Keita/ Owens/ Clark/ Simon/ Ponds for next season, or Keita/ Owens/ Simon/ Dixon/ Ponds.

But if he chooses to go, good luck to him. Owens has give two excellent years to a build at St. John’s, and if he needs to explore, the team will go on.