Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 1/5/12
Josh Owens' collegiate basketball career at Stanford was halted before the 2009-10 season by a sudden undisclosed medical condition. But he tapped into his desire for new experiences to help carry him through, and he's now helping his Cardinal team make a comeback of its own. Owens, a senior, is currently Stanford's leading scorer, averaging 12.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-8 forward has led his team to a 12-2 record (2-0 in conference) and the No. 1 spot in the Pac-12. "I do like to experience new things," Owens said. "In terms of how it relates to basketball, I'm always trying to learn something new. I'm always looking for an edge and trying to get as much information as I can." That innate longing led him away from home at an early age. Though he grew up in Atlanta, he was born in New Hampshire. His father told him about a place in New Hampshire named Phillips Exeter Academy, to which he used to deliver packages for FedEx. Owens decided to apply and received enough financial aid to attend. While at the academy, he became a four-year letter winner in basketball and a two-time team captain. The 2007 New Hampshire Gatorade Player of the Year was rated as one of the nation's top 150 recruits by Rivals.com. Wanting to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Jerryck, who was playing professional basketball in Portugal, he continued his athletic pursuits, but this time it would take him a bit farther than just a few states away. Stanford was on a different coast. Owens had a modest, but meaningful, start to his Cardinal career. He debuted against Harvard on Nov. 9, 2007, contributing 12 points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench. He finished his freshman year averaging 1.7 points and 1.4 rebounds, going 13 of 21 from the field in 18 games. During the 2008-09 season, Owens managed to play in all 34 games and started in 28 of those. He improved his averages to 6.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and had eight games in double figures. After putting in extra time over the offseason, he was ready to return for his third season as a cornerstone for Stanford. But right before the season began, he was told he'd be unable to play due to medical reasons. "Knowing that I wasn't going to be able to contribute the way I wanted to after working really hard over the summer that was tough," recalled Owens. To make matters worse, he spent the first part of the season essentially separated from his team. "It happened so abruptly, and I wasn't able to practice with the team and stuff. But eventually I was able to do individual skill work and stuff on my own," said Owens. "I think it actually helped with my development a lot." Though Owens was able to hone his individual skills, he wasn't able to practice in a five-on-five situation, running up and down the court. "The first thing that I noticed was getting used to the pace," he said. The All-Pac-10 honorable mention eventually found his form and started all 31 games, averaging 11.6 points and a team-best 6.5 rebounds. He led the team with 29 blocks and ranked second with 25 steals. He scored in double figures 21 times, six of those being double-doubles. Stanford is in the process of rebounding from back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in 25 years. Since head coach Johnny Dawkins arrived four seasons ago, they haven't been ranked higher than seventh in the conference. But with veterans such as Owens leading the way -- along with a crop of fresh, young talent -- Stanford not only has a winning season so far, but a great view from the top of the Pac-12. "I think the thing that is clicking right now is that everyone is buying into our goals and our beliefs as a team. Not just like defensive principles, but also individual roles," said Owens. "Whenever someone understands what they are expected to do and knows what they can do and doesn't try to divert away from that, it always makes everything flow a lot smoother."
PLAYERS: Josh Owens
TEAMS: Stanford Cardinal
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