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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Men’s basketball commits build chemistry together as high school roommates

Royce Parham joined Damarius Owens at Western Reserve Academy for their senior years of high school. (Graphic courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

It only took one Instagram DM for Damarius Owens and Royce Parham to go from future to current teammates. 

Both Owens and Parham are Marquette men’s basketball’s class of 2024 commits, but right now they are finishing their last year of high school together at Western Reserve Academy, a boarding school in Hudson, Ohio.

Owens, who was already a student at WRA, knew who Parham was after they both committed to Marquette. But after some of Owens’ teammates left, he reached out to Parham to see if he’d want to play his senior year as teammates. Parham had no reservations.

“My old public school, it was just a ‘so-so school’ and I wanted to play against better competition,” Parham, who grew up in Pittsburgh, said.

But they’re not just teammates at Western Reserve, they’re also roommates.

“They work hard every day to make each other better,” head coach Shaka Smart said in a presser on national letter of intent day. “They balance each other out in certain ways. They really value getting better, growth. They care about our guys already, and they really value Marquette and what we have.”

The two have been living together for two months, which allows them to spend more time with each other off the court. Whether it is arguing over who is going to cook the next meal or breaking down film together, Parham said the two are with each other constantly.

“(Living together) helps us build chemistry early, before we get to college,” Parham said. “What we’re good at, bad at, what we need to improve on, we get to help each other throughout the process.”

Despite only playing together for a short amount of time, Owens said he matches up well with Parham on the court.

“I love Royce because he plays really fast, and that’s how I like to play basketball,” Owens said. “I like to go up and down, I like to challenge guys, so us on a fast break is unstoppable in my opinion.”

Now that the two are officially signed to Marquette, they are talking to both Smart and current players every day. It is a part of Smart’s “signee indoctrination program,” which all of his recruits go through.

In the program, Smart sends videos from practices and games to Parham and Owens every week so they can see how the program operates before they get to campus.

“We are teaching our incoming guys how we are, and how we do things. And that’s culturally first and foremost, that’s defensively and that’s offensively,” Smart said. “For example, Neill Berry, in a given week, might send defensive clips to Royce and Damarius of how we defend a pick and roll and just show them, this is this is our guys defending a pick and roll during the game.”

Then, Parham and Owens watch the videos Smart sends with each other.

“It’s big for us to watch it together and break it down and help each other understand what we need to do when we get there,” Owens said.

Both Owens and Parham are in a group chat with Smart in which he talks to them every day, but they’re also in one with the current first-years. In the chat, the first-years talk about what being in the program is like and what their experiences are, which Owens said has helped him learn a lot about the program, and makes him feel like he is already a part of it.

“Just playing together and being able to really look at your teammates as family,” Owens said about what he has learned.

Since announcing his verbal commitment to Marquette, Owens has had a meteoric rise in the recruit rankings. When Owens committed, he was the No. 149 prospect in the class of 2024 by the 247Sports composite index. Now, he is No. 55, almost 100 spots up from where he once was. Parham is the No. 97 recruit and No. 21 power forward in his class.

But Smart publicly spurns the recruiting rankings. He knows what he is looking for, what personalities he wants, what types of players will fit his style and how he can best utilize them. Both Parham and Owens fit Smart’s bill of athletic bigs that have a lot of potential.

“These are two guys that, they’re going to have to go through the freshman adjustment like everyone else,” Smart said. “But we feel like they’re going to be terrific players here.”

And they will have an extra year of playing together to help make that adjustment as smooth as possible.

This article was written by Jack Albright. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @JackAlbrightMU.

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About the Contributor
Jack Albright, Executive Sports Editor
Jack Albright is a sophomore from Charlton, Massachusetts studying journalism. He is the Executive Sports Editor of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-24 school year. In his free time, Jack likes to hang out with friends and watch Formula 1. He is excited to write fun stories about all things Marquette athletics and oversee new types of digital content.

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