Former New Mexico State Aggie Tennessee Owens has accepted an assistant coaching position at Texas A&M-Texarkana, a NAIA university, but he couldn’t have done it without a great first impression and the help of a NMSU coach.
NMSU associate head coach Dominique Taylor recommended Owens to A&M-Texarkana head coach Ryan Wall, who Taylor worked alongside at South Alabama during his first job as a Division I assistant, after meeting Owens during an April workout with former Aggie Jabari Rice before he transferred to Texas. He knew Owens played for former head coach Chris Jans and had heard his fellow assistants talk about Owens, then coaching in Kuwait, so he had a general impression before the two shook hands. But once he saw the connection Owens had built with Rice, he knew he didn’t have to hesitate to help him find his first college coaching opportunity.
“The first thing was that Rice would let him work him out. Jabari’s a gym rat, he’s a guy who likes to work, but he’s a little particular about who he listens to. So the fact that Tennessee had Jabari’s ear spoke volumes to Tennessee’s background,” Taylor said of Owens, who spent one season as a graduate assistant at Texas Tech and one season coaching in Kuwait. “It isn’t like he has a lot of experience coaching or training guys. So the fact that Jabari trusted him with his workouts and his preparation for his last year at the college level, I think it spoke volumes to the person Tennessee is.”
The more Taylor watched Owens coach Rice, the more impressed he became. Owens didn’t just put Rice through the standard drills and workout regimens you may find at any low-level NCAA school or a high school – he put Rice through drills Taylor and Rice had worked on individually after practices and drills Taylor knew Rice needed to go through if he wanted to play at the Power Six Conference level.
“His attention to detail was such that a guy who’s got aspirations in the NBA and a guy who has aspirations to play at the University of Texas was trusting him with his career,” Taylor said. “For me, it was more so getting to sit back and watch and have a chance to observe. I was like, ‘This guy is going to be good at (coaching).”
After Owens and Rice finished their workout, and Owens and Taylor had an opportunity for an extended conversation, Owens asked to be kept in mind for any potential college coaching opportunities which may arise. Taylor just happened to know Wall was looking to add an assistant, and he could draw parallels between Owens and himself early on in his coaching career.
“I’m extremely appreciative, super grateful he was able to do that for me. We had no relationship prior to me coming back to Las Cruces when I got back from Kuwait,” Owens said. “He put me in contact with coach Wall, and I couldn’t be more grateful. This is a perfect fit for me hitting the ground running. He’s been instrumental in this process.”
TAMUT announced the addition of Owens on Tuesday.
"Please welcome Coach Tennessee Owens to the TAMUT men's basketball staff," the school announced on Tuesday.
This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: NMSU basketball assistant Dominique Taylor helps Owens land first coaching job at Texas A&M-Texarkana