Ranking the Contenders: Damarius Owens
Wednesday is decision day for three-star forward Damarius Owens, who is set to choose among finalists Syracuse, Marquette and Virginia Tech. An upstate New York native, Owens attracted offers from a long list of major programs before recently narrowing his focus to just three.
And while a trio of programs are still technically alive when it comes to the chase to land his letter of intent, they aren't all standing on equal footing.
On the eve of Owens’ commitment, Rivals national analyst Rob Cassidy ranks the three finalists in order of how likely they are to secure the Western Reserve (Ohio) Academy star’s commitment.
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Owens visited Marquette last month and it seems as though the Golden Eagles were able to gain an edge in the wake of the visit, having already established a bond with the 6-foot-8 junior before meeting him in person. Head coach Shaka Smart’s high-energy approach and the 20-6 record he’s amassed this season seem to appeal to Owens, who sees himself as a fit for Smart’s approach.
If the Golden Eagles are to land Owens, his commitment will, at least in part, be the product of the momentum Smart has quickly built since taking the reins prior to last season. The turnaround in Milwaukee has been quick and isn't showing signs of slowing. Adding a big recruiting win over programs such as Syracuse and Virginia Tech would simply be more fuel for the fire.
The Orange are the only real threat to Marquette, as the Western Reserve Academy star visited last month and sees playing for the Orange as a way to stay close to his home city of Rochester, which sits just 90 miles down the road. There’s definitely a nostalgia-based allure when it comes to in-state power, which maintains a puncher's chance, even if it looks as though Marquette holds a slight edge.
Owens has the kind of length that would play well in Jim Boeheim’s famous zone. The Orange have been involved in his recruitment since the start, so the comfort level at work can't be ignored. Owens seems slightly more likely to pick Marquette, but Syracuse being the selection wouldn’t qualify as a seismic surprise by any stretch.
The Hokies feel like the odd man out here, but Owens included them in his final three, so anything is possible. That said, Owens has not taken an official visit to campus and seems to be far less familiar with the program than he is with his other two finalists. Mike Young has dropped in to watch Owens play or practice a time or two, but the relationship doesn’t seem to be one capable of yielding a surprise commitment. Stranger things have happened in recruiting, however.