Tariq Owens, a 6-foot-8 forward from St. Vincent Pallotti High (Md.) committed to Ohio University 10 months ago. On Thursday, head coach Jim Christian left the program after two years to take the Boston College opening.
On Saturday night, North Dakota State head coach Saul Phillips was announced as Christians replacement.
Following Christian’s departure, Owens, a three-star recruit according to Rivals, requested his release from his National Letter of Intent. According to a report from Evan Daniels of Scout, Ohio Director of Athletics Jim Schaus has denied that request.
“Same source says, Tariq Owens has no intentions of going to Ohio and would sit out a year if he has to,” Daniels tweeted.
Before he committed to the Bobcats, Owens held offers from Florida Gulf Coast, Miami (FL), Seton Hall, South Florida and VCU.
The Bobcats are coming off a 25-win season, and entering the 2014-2015 season Owens was going to join Maurice Ndour, the team’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder, on the Bobcats frontline.
Two years ago, Ohio head coach John Groce accepted the same position at Illinois. Ohio released a three-star recruit in the Class of 2012 from his letter of intent. That turned out to be Michigan shooting guard Caris LeVert, who averaged 12.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game this season for the Big Ten regular season champion.
Ohio finished third in the MAC East Division.
In news that didn’t come as much of a surprise, UCLA freshman guard Isaac Hamilton’s final appeal to have the National Letter of Intent he signed after committing to UTEP nullified was denied on Thursday. With that being the case Hamilton, a McDonald’s All-American from Los Angeles, will sit out this season and lose a year of eligibility per the rules of the NLI.
Hamilton will be able to receive an athletic scholarship and practice with the team, so head coach Steve Alford and his staff will be able to groom the prolific shooting guard with an eye towards next season. And having a player as talented as Hamilton should help the Bruins’ perimeter rotation, which includes Jordan Adams, Zach LaVine and Norman Powell, in practice every day.
While Hamilton was most valued as a scorer during his high school career (23.0 ppg at St. John Bosco last season), there was some thinking that if eligible he could throw his name into the mix at the point guard position along with fellow freshmen LaVine and Bryce Alford, and sophomore Kyle Anderson.
Those three players combined to dish out 11 assists (Anderson with five, Alford and LaVine with three apiece) against eight turnovers (Alford – 4, Anderson – 3, LaVine – 1) in the Bruins’ 96-66 exhibition victory over Cal State San Bernadino on Wednesday night. Both LaVine (15 points) and Anderson (ten points) reached double figures, and while the Bruins do have one more exhibition game to play prior to their season opener against Drexel next Friday it seems likely that multiple players will have the opportunity to initiate the offense for Alford’s squad.
In the aftermath of their missing out on point guards Jordan McLaughlin and Quentin Snider, the question has been asked in many circles what the next step would be for the UCLA basketball program. This year’s roster doesn’t have a concrete answer at the position, and it’s something that becomes even more problematic when looking towards the future under head coach Steve Alford.
But the Bruins may have found an answer, one that while a bit unconventional is also an extremely talented one.
That answer: McDonald’s All-American Isaac Hamilton. After having his request to be released from the National Letter of Intent he signed after committing to attend UTEP denied, Hamilton had to move quickly in finding another school to attend this fall. According to Neal Nieves of Bruin Sports Report, Hamilton was admitted into UCLA Friday and has begun the process of enrolling in classes.
While Hamilton will not be allowed to play this season (and he loses a year of eligibility), he is eligible to join the program and receive an athletic scholarship. This is a highly valuable addition for coach Alford and his staff, and given the questions at point guard Hamilton having to sit out a year could be a blessing in disguise should they entertain the possibility of using him there in 2014-15.
As a senior at St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, Calif., Hamilton averaged 22.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game on a team that won the CIF Southern Section Class 3A title. There’s no doubt that he’s got the talent needed to make an immediate impact at UCLA. The question is whether or not he’s the best answer for the Bruins at the point in 2014-15, with Bryce Alford and Zach LaVine (and whoever the Bruins could possibly reel in on the recruiting trail, but the pickings are slim at this stage).