That makes sense considering Owens had to redshirt the 2009-10 season at Stanford because of an undisclosed medical condition.
“There was all types of possibilities,” the 6-foot-8, 235-pound Owens said of what could’ve happened as a result of his medical situation. “I wasn’t allowed to practice with the team. It definitely was one of the toughest experiences.”
The Kennesaw, Ga., native who finished up at Phillips Exeter Academy said he ultimately benefitted from the year away from hoops, even though it was difficult.
“I really grew as a person, mostly off the court,” he said.
Now two years removed from that difficult situation, Owens is putting everything into his senior year with the Cardinal.
He put on a show Wednesday night by scoring 13 of Stanford’s first 15 points, making his first nine field goals and finishing with 21 points and 5 rebounds in the Cardinal’s 79-57 rout of Oklahoma State at MSG.
Stanford (5-0) will face Syracuse or Virginia Tech in Friday’s title game.
“I feel great,” said Owens, who entered averaging 12.3 points and 4.3 rebounds. “Leaving nothing out there. It’s my senior year and I’m just trying to help my team along in the direction we want to go.”
Owens had never played at the Garden before and joked that when he’s at 34th Street and 7th Avenue in Manhattan, it’s usually “to get to Penn Station to catch the train over to New Jersey.”
Yet the long, athletic Owens showed no hesitation in carving up the Oklahoma State defense as Stanford raced to a 13-7 lead.
Stanford was picked sixth in the Pac-12 preseason poll, but with preseason No. 1 UCLA having stumbled out of the gate (1-4) and preseason No. 3 Arizona having problems with its freshmen, the Cardinal feel they could surprise some people in the league.
“People can say whatever they want to about the league, but we’re focused on ourself,” Owens said.
And having gone through his own tough experience, Owens says he appreciates the game more than ever before.
“When something you love is taken away for that long a time, there’s an uncertainty,” he said. “You cherish every moment of it.”