UCLA women's basketball player Jaden Owens is the latest in a line of high-profile guards to transfer to Baylor. Unlike predecessors Chloe Jackson and Te'a Cooper, Owens appears set to stick around for more than a season.
Owens, who recently completed her freshman season at UCLA, announced her decision Monday. She will have to sit out the 2020-21 season, pending any NCAA decision on a one-time transfer waiver, and will have three seasons of eligibility remaining when she takes the court.
"It's a winning program, and when you go there you have no other expectations but to win," Owens said Monday of Baylor's history as a three-time national champion under coach Kim Mulkey. "It's just going somewhere with great tradition, that wants to win and that's close to home."
A 5-foot-8 point guard from the Dallas area, Owens was ranked as the No. 13 recruit in last year's freshman class by ESPN Hoopgurlz. With senior point guard Japreece Dean ahead of her, she appeared in 27 games for UCLA and averaged 2.6 points and 1.2 assists per game.
Transfer point guards have been critical to Baylor's success the past two seasons. Jackson, a graduate transfer from LSU in 2018-19, led Baylor in assists and steals en route to an NCAA title in her lone season with the Lady Bears.
Thanks in part to Cooper, Baylor was again a title favorite and projected as a No. 1 seed when this season's NCAA tournament was canceled. A graduate transfer from South Carolina, Cooper led Baylor in assists and was the team's second-leading scorer.
Both Cooper and Jackson were subsequently selected in the WNBA draft.
"For sure, just knowing how Mulkey lets her point guards play and just the history behind them," Owens said of the influence of Cooper and Jackson's success. "They come in for their last year and can make an impact, so I just want to come in knowing that I'll have a few more years to go and just wanting to make an impact from the jump and in the long run."
Owens said there was no problem at UCLA that led to her decision to enter the transfer portal but that a desire to be closer to home was her motivating reason. She said that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic played some role in her wanting to be closer to family.
Although only a freshman, Owens brings a large following to a program that already ranks among the most visible in women's basketball. She currently has 283,000 Instagram followers, 10 times as many as the Baylor team's official account. Romantically linked to basketball player LiAngelo Ball, she has appeared on the "Ball in the Family" series on Facebook Watch.