Two beloved former Texas Tech basketball players, Tariq Owens and Matt Mooney, have been signed to NBA contracts.
All season, Texas Tech basketball fans have been following the development of former Red Raider Jarrett Culver in the NBA. Now, we may get to see two of his teammates from last season’s national runner-up squad in The Association as well.
Both Tariq Owens and Matt Mooney have been signed to two-way contracts by NBA teams, the Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavilers respectively. To try to put it simply, the two-way contract allows a player to spend up to 45 days with an NBA team as sort of an audition period. This was designed to help keep more fringe NBA prospects in the United States where they can play in the NBA G-League, the farm system of the NBA.
“In a nutshell, the league created two extra roster spots for guys to make a little more money shuttling between the G League and the parent club,” explains John Karalis of Boston.com. “Thus keeping more fringe NBA players in the United States and working within team systems rather than chasing international paydays. NBA players on two-way contracts can earn up to $204,000 instead of the $35,000 G League salary. It’s not the millions they might get overseas, but it’s worth the financial sacrifice for some players.”
Owens has been starring for the Northern Arizona Suns this year playing alongside his Red Raider teammate Norense Odiase. In 23 games thus far, the 6-foot-10 forward has been averaging nine points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 24.3 minutes.
Of course, last year he was a centerpiece of the greatest Texas Tech team in program history. Setting a school record for blocks in a season with 92, he averaged 8.7 points and 5.8 rebounds in his lone season in Scarlet and Black.
Unfortunately, his lasting memory as a Red Raider might be that he was unable to play at 100% in the National Title Game after spraining his ankle two days earlier in the Final Four. Many Red Raider fans will forever believe that had Owens been at full-strength for that final game, it would have been Chris Beard, not Tony Bennett, cutting down the nets in Minneapolis.
Mooney was also a huge factor in that run last year. Also a grad transfer, he averaged 11.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game.
His defining moment as a Red Raider came in that Final Four contest against Michigan State when he had a team-high 22 points to help his team advance to the title game. Thus far in 24 games with the Memphis Hustle, he’s averaged 12.5 points and 4.8 assists.
In case you might be wondering, Odiase has put up 6.3 points and eight rebounds per game for Northern Arizona in 21 games this year. In five games this month, his scoring has increased to 8.8 points per game.
After years of producing no NBA talent, the Texas Tech basketball program has quickly built a reputation for developing players into true NBA prospects, something that has aided Chris Beard greatly on the recruiting trail. As we continue to see the level of talent he brings into his program rise to new heights, we will be paying more and more attention to what happens at the game’s highest level. And it would surprise no Red Raider fan to see Tariq Owens or Matt Mooney find a way to make it in the NBA.