Nearly 40 percent of male Division I basketball players who arrive from high school will be transferred at the end of their second year, according to N.C.A.A. data from 2011 to 2017. Owens and Mooney, now in the Final Four, were in that group.
Owens left Tennessee after his freshman year when his coach was fired. He moved to St. John's, where he earned a degree in sports administration. Mooney left the Air Force, dissatisfied with the military lifestyle, for South Dakota, where he earned a degree in innovation and entrepreneurship. He was happy to stay there for his senior year until his coach, Craig Smith, left for Utah State last April.
With the remaining eligibility due to their transfers, Owens and Mooney came to the graduate transfer market and looked for the same: a place where they could win (none had been in the N.C.A.A. tournament) and improve their skills for a possible career. Texas Tech turned out to be a perfect combination: an up-and-coming program with a respected coach, Chris Beard, and a template that fit perfectly with Owens, a 6-foot-10-foot blocker and runner-up, and Mooney, a ball-keeper who could find your shot.
"This is an environment where I knew I could work and that they would train me hard," Owens said. "I like to be in environments where you have something to prove."
At Texas Tech, Owens, 23, and Mooney, 24, are enrolled in a master's program for interdisciplinary studies, and take three clbades in the fall and spring that suit their interests. Mooney is taking two of his clbades online.
"My main focus is basketball, to try to establish myself for professionals," said Mooney, who is studying educational leadership. "Academics are not a big priority at the moment, but you still have to take care of yourself, I have my degree, that's the most important thing."
He added: "I did not leave places because I was not satisfied with playing time or things like that." I definitely did not want to go this way, I did not want to go to three different schools, I wanted to go to a school, play there for four years, have a great I have a career and have a home to go back and graduate, but sometimes life does not work that way. "