Anthony Dabbundo (@AnthonyDabbundo)
In the final moments of Saturday night’s battle between Archbishop Wood and The Shipley School, the packed gymnasium was on the edge of its seat. With the game on the line, the Gators trailed by three with just 13 ticks left on the clock. As Seth Pinkney’s free throw rattled off the back of the rim, Shipley had one last chance to force overtime with a three pointer.
Hundreds looked on nervously, most of the crowd partisan towards the reigning PIAA state champion Vikings. None more nervous than Billy Owens, the father of Shipley junior guard Chaz Owens.
Even though Billy has played on the biggest stages of basketball on every level, he still feels nervous watching his son on the floor.
“I love it, but it’s nerve wracking,” Billy said. “For me and for him.”
Chaz spent his first three high school seasons at Wissahickon, before deciding to transfer to Shipley ahead of this season. The 6-foot-4 junior wing reclassified, giving him another season to develop his craft, and follow his dreams of reaching the collegiate level.
Growing up with an NBA father is a tough act to follow, as both he and Billy admit. Chaz does his best to make sure that he finds his own path, distinguishing himself from the reputation his father built the best he can.
After four consecutive state championships at Carlisle, Billy spent three years at Syracuse University, averaging 17.9 points per game. Then, he was drafted third overall in the 1991 NBA draft by the Sacramento Kings. Owens was named to the all-rookie team, and spent 10 years in the NBA with seven different franchises.
“It’s hard coming after your father, with everyone asking you about what your father did,” the 6-9, 220-pound former All-American said. “I love that he loves the game of basketball.”
While Chaz may have transferred to Shipley, joining a talented roster featuring Division 1 recruit Sam Sessoms, the younger Owens says that his role has not changed since becoming a Gator.
“Shipley is a better opportunity to try to get to the next level,” Chaz said. “The coach wants me to be aggressive, get my teammates involved, score the ball, my role hasn’t really changed that much.”
A lanky, 6-4 slashing guard, Owens has built his game on being able to score and assist in a variety of ways. He does not have the physical presence that his father did, being five inches shorter and 60 pounds lighter. While Owens can score in the paint and knock down shots from beyond-the-arc, the junior sometimes disappears from the scoresheet. On Saturday night, it was two quick fouls and persistent foul trouble that left him on the bench for large stretches of Saturday night’s one point loss to Archbishop Wood.
When Chaz was born in 2001, his father’s playing career had almost come to an end. He said he does not remember his father’s playing days. Yet, when his friends and acquaintances find out that his dad was an NBA player, he has grown accustomed to the same typical questions that come along with being the son of a former top three NBA pick.
“People always ask me about him, what’s it like to be his son, they think it’s really cool,” Chaz said. “To me, he’s just my dad.”
Despite having his father around as a coach, Chaz is now prepared to build his own legacy within basketball. He gave football a try in middle school, but he said he quickly realized that his passion, much like his father, was on the hardwood.
As much help as his father can be a resource off the floor, the junior has said that it’s up to him to determine his own future on the basketball court. As a late-bloomer, he has two years of high school basketball to prove his worth to scouts of schools across the country.
Instead of being known as ‘Chaz Owens, son of NBA player Billy Owens’, he is ready to be known as just ‘Chaz Owens, basketball player’.
“It’s up to me,” Chaz said. “My goal is to play college basketball, and I have really developed my love of basketball and my passion for the game.”