Tariq Owens, St John's
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

With Tariq Owens officially leaving the St. John’s Red Storm for Texas Tech, where does that leave their frontcourt for 2018-19?

While the St. John’s Red Storm were in the running to the very end to keep their top shot blocker, Tariq Owens, they eventually came out on the losing end. On Monday, Evan Daniels of FOX Sports and 247 Sports reported on Twitter that Owens is heading to the Big 12 to play his final year with Texas Tech.

Owens departure leaves a big shot blocking gap in the frontcourt at Carnesecca Arena. If you look at this past season, the player on St. John’s with the second-most blocks after Owens’ 94 was a guard, Justin Simon, who had 27.


If you go further down the list after Simon, it gets very low in the block department. Since Kassoum Yakwe (transferring), Amar Alibegovic (graduating), and Bashir Ahmed (graduating) are now gone as well, Marvin Clark II was behind Simon in the blocks category with a mere five.

St. John’s does have two freshmen coming into the mix next season in six-foot-five forward Marcellus Earlington and six-foot-nine center Josh Roberts. Roberts can fill some of the void if he carries over the 1.8 blocks per game he had on the Nike EBYL circuit, but that is a tall order for a young player to fill.

As far as returning players who could help in that department, keep an eye on Sedee Keita. The six-foot-nine forward sat out this past season after transferring from South Carolina. While with the Gamecocks, he had 11 total blocks while averaging 9.6 minutes per game. Could more playing time lead to more production on defense in ’18-19? Time will tell.

As the Red Storm continue to look for graduate transfer fits, they should try to look for a player that can benefit from a pick-and-roll offense where Shamorie Ponds (if he comes back) and Simon could help feed that player the ball down low.

One player that makes sense for that role is Femi Olujobi from North Carolina A&T. Olujobi averaged 16.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game last year and shot 53.6 percent from the floor. He wouldn’t help in terms of the perimeter shooting aspect of the game (29 percent from downtown), but it would give the Red Storm another offensive option down low with Clark II.

On Monday, Zach Braziller of the New York Post reported that assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih met with Olujobi on Sunday. With Olujobi being from Long Island, a return to the area could be a welcome option for him.

Plus, he did have 18 points (7-for-13 shooting) and eight boards against Georgetown on December 9, so you would think Red Storm fans would like him right away.

For Owens, he gets a chance to go to a Texas Tech program that is coming off of an Elite Eight appearance this season and should be one of the top teams in the Big 12 next season, even without Keenan Evans at point guard. With his third team, he will have a chance to play a prominent role in their success.

With that being said, it was interesting to hear Owens’ reason for why he left St. John’s and about the underachieving that the team had last season. Here are the quotes, courtesy of Braziller:

As St. John’s now tries to fill out their roster for next year, they won’t have a top shot blocker on the roster as of right now. If that remains the case, Chris Mullin and his staff will have to be creative with their defense without having a strong rim protector.

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