Lanky forward to tour UT

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A basketball prospect whose stature and status have grown dramatically in the past year will be visiting Tennessee next week.

Tariq Owens of Mt. Zion Prep in Baltimore stood 6-feet-8 and carried 185 pounds when he signed with Ohio University last November. He secured a release from his letter of intent when head coach Jim Christian left last month to take the reins at Boston College. Now packing 215 pounds on a 6-foot-10½ frame, Owens suddenly finds himself one of the hottest recruits on the market. So, who is showing the most interest?

"Take your pick," Mt. Zion Prep head coach Rodrick Harrison told InsideTennessee. "You're the fifth phone call today about him. Temple, Seton Hall, Connecticut … every coach in the country wants him."

That's understandable. The coach says his star player has breath-taking agility for his size.

"He's super athletic and he's 6-10½," Harrison said. "He's a flat-out athlete. He runs the floor like a guard and will finish everything around the rim."

In spite of his superior height, Owens probably is not going to play center in college. He's roughly 30 pounds too light for that role.

"He's 215 pounds," Harrison said. "He's a stretch 4 (power forward) who can play the 5 (post) because he's so athletic. He would definitely benefit from being a stretch 4 but he can get it done, playing 4 or 5."

Although Harrison's slender build limits his ability to bang around the basket, it apparently enhances his ability to defend away from the basket.

"He moves well enough to cover a guard on the perimeter," Harrison said. "He's agile enough to cover space. He wouldn't be lost. He can guard the post but he can guard a 3 (small forward) if need be."

The coach said Owens averaged "about 15 points, about 10 rebounds and 4½ blocks" last season. Asked to pinpoint Owens' best game, Harrison paused thoughtfully before responding.

"I can't really pick one," the coach finally said. "He did it night in and night out. He just dominated."

The offensive and defensive schemes Mt. Zion Prep played last season should help prepare Owens for college ball. Offensively, he can play facing the basket or with his back to it. Defensively, he has the length to excel in zone and the agility to excel in man to man.

"We played four out/one in, so he got a chance to play away from the basket some," Harrison said. "And we mostly played man to man. We did a little matchup zone but with the athletes I had this year I didn't have to play much zone."

Owens complements his superior height and quickness with some impressive hops.

"At 6-10½ he has probably a 35-inch vertical (jump)," Harrison said. "He's going to be a lot more athletic than most 5s because he's not 245 pounds. That's why I think he's a better fit as a stretch 4 than a 5."

Owens spent his senior season of high school at St. Vincent Pallotti in Laurel, Md., He committed to Ohio U last June, saying no to Temple, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, Miami and Rhode Island. He wound up at Mt. Zion Prep in 2013-14, however, where both his frame and his reputation experienced growth spurts. He was rated America's No. 99 prospect by Scout at one time but is not currently in the top 100.

In addition to evolving into an outstanding athlete, Owens has matured into a solid citizen.

"He's a perfect gentleman," Harrison said. "He's no trouble, a great kid who works hard. He went through a little bit as a youngster but he's had no problems here at all."

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