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September 17, 2013One of the nation's best players has committed to the UCF men's basketball program and head coach Donnie Jones.
Alex Owens, a four-star prospect and the No. 71 rated player in the Class of 2015, announced his decision on Tuesday night. The 6-foot-8 Orlando (Fla.) Oak Ridge power forward had taken an unofficial visit to campus last weekend and Jones watched him practice this week.
"By staying home my family can come see me play," Owens said. "That was important to me. I felt a really good bond with the coaching staff. I have a great relationship with the staff. I feel like I can play with anybody in the country, so by me going to UCF I feel like I can help bring some other good players with me so we can make history."
Holding offers from some of the nation's elite programs including Florida, Florida State, Miami, Louisville, Cincinnati, NC State and Maryland, Owens says UCF pushed to the top of his list following last weekend's visit.
"I just loved it," Owens said. "I loved the campus, atmosphere and everything. The campus is unbelievable. Just walking around, you don't have to leave the campus for anything."
During the trip he was able to meet a few UCF players.
"I shook their hand and watched them practice," Owens said. "After that they toured me around. I just liked how everything was and how the coaches were. Coach Jones, Coach Tillis, they're all really good coaches."
Though he can't sign for another 14 months, Owens felt he didn't need to wait any longer to make his decision.
"Today we had workouts and UCF came to talk to me and my mom," Owens said. "We were like, 'We're going to think about everything.' I took the visit and really liked it, though I didn't really tell Coach Jones, 'I'm going to pick your school.' I just told him I had fun. I told my mom what I was feeling and she said if I felt that way that was good. So after workouts today I called Coach Jones and let him know I wanted to go there.
"He was excited. He was like, 'This isn't the first stop.' I've still got more do. I need to let everybody know why I committed."
Owens is already good friends with Boone point guard B.J. Taylor, a 2014 prospect who committed last month.
"Me and B.J. played with Each 1 Teach 1 last year at the Peach Jam," Owens said. "We've already got a little chemistry. I just got off the phone with him. He was actually working out and his phone rang. It was Coach Jones telling him about me and what happened. He was so happy."
The Orlando connection could just be getting started. Owens says he and Taylor will try to convince other local stars to join them, such as Adonys Henriquez in the 2014 class, and Antonio Blakeney, his fellow Class of 2015 four-star teammate at Oak Ridge.
"We're trying to do some Fab Five type stuff at UCF," Owens said. "We want to come in and let everybody know it's not about what school you go to. With the best players, anybody can do anything."
Owens feels his best skills at this stage include his rebounding and passing ability.
"Coach Jones has said he likes how I attack the rim," Owens said. "Also how soft my hands are."
He says he's always working to be more consistent on his shot as well as his dribbling.
"It's coming along pretty good," he said.
He says he'll be a regular visitor this upcoming season as UCF begins American Athletic Conference play against the likes of Cincinnati, UConn, Louisville, Memphis and Temple.
"I'm done with recruiting," he said. "I just want to focus on my academics so I can be NCAA eligible when it's time to go. I'm also trying to get my body right to be ready for the college level."