Athlete Worth Watching: LJ Owens | Severn School
Jul 01, 2018 12:00AM
● By Brian Saucedo
By Tom Worgo
LJ Owens describes his body type as slim. That’s why the Severn School senior focused sharply on getting “bigger, stronger, and faster” once the Admirals’ basketball season ended in February.
The 6-foot-3, 165-pound standout knows that his mission is to prepare for his freshman year of basketball coming this fall at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. Because the players are bigger and more physical in college, matching their heft is something the sharp-shooting guard has kept at the top of his mind while training.
“I am preparing the whole offseason for my first year to get on the floor and to be able to be the best player I can be,” Owens says. “I have to work on my all-around game and strength and conditioning. It’s my passion now. I just have to keep getting better. If I continue to work and keep a positive mindset, I definitely will be able to play early in college.”
Working hard has turned into more than a routine for Owens, who finished his four-year varsity career as one of rare players in the Baltimore area to surpass 2,000 points in a career. The Annapolis resident has been training up to two-and-a-half hours per day at Severn and the Pip Moyer Recreation Center in Annapolis, concentrating on lifting weights as much as he is on sharpening his basketball skills.
It was important for him to improve his ball handling, considering that he will likely be playing point guard a lot more at William & Mary than he did at Severn. Owens spent countless hours dribbling and, as a result, he is much more confident in that area of his game now.
“I will definitely be one of the guards handling the ball,” Owens says. “I really have been working on my ball handling. In high school, I played more off the ball and got more open shots. In college, my size is like a true point guard. I will have the ball in my hands more than I did in high school.”
The 18-year-old Owens is seeing his basketball skills improve because of the grueling workouts.
“It came with being in the weight room,” Owens says. “I have been bulking up and getting stronger.”
William & Mary Men’s Basketball Coach Tony Shaver loves the attitude Owens has shown in preparing to play at the next level. Shaver says Owens’ tremendous worth ethic is one of his strong suits.
“We have talked to him about being in the best shape of his life,” Shaver explains. “He is really focused and working on that. I think he understands the next step is a big one. A lot of really good high school players that get scholarships really think they have it made.”
“They don’t prepare for the next step like they should,” Shaver adds. “I think he will be prepared to be successful at the next level. He is a guy that can give us some immediate help.”
Owens, who carried a 3.2 grade point average, chose William & Mary because he has the opportunity to earn significant playing time as a freshman. He had offers from 19 Division I schools, including Delaware, Towson, UMBC, and the Naval Academy.
“I wanted to go somewhere where I could play early on and develop,” Owens says. “It would help me build my confidence. I didn’t want to go to school and not play my first year or two and then develop and come on my junior and senior year.”
What a senior year Owens, a four-year varsity starter, had at Severn. Owens averaged 23.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.3 assists to help the Admirals to a 25-6 record and finish as Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference runner-up. Owens’ numbers improved every year. He averaged 22 points as a junior and led the team in scoring as both a sophomore (18.9) and freshman (15.2).
Owens also worked as his basketball skills playing on AAU in the spring
and summer for six years.
“Most people can score in one or two ways,” Severn Boys’ Basketball Coach VJ Keith says. “LJ can score like five different ways. He is so dangerous all over the floor.”
Keith appreciated how many points Owens scored for his program, but he valued the time the senior put in working with the younger Admirals just as much. He served as a three-year co-captain for Severn. “He puts his teammates first,” Keith says. “He’s always working and teaching his teammates and helping other people.”
Shaver has heard nothing but good things about Owens’ leadership and character. “The headmaster (Doug Lagarde) of his school emailed me about this: They had a ceremony [Feb. 16] to honor him for 2,000 points after a game one night,” Shaver recalls. “He was the first guy picking up chairs and putting them back where they go and getting his teammates to help out. He is just a really nice kid. He wants to be successful, but he is very concerned that everyone to be part of it.”