CARLISLE, PA. -- Billy Owens, 17, lives in the same picturesque town where Jim Thorpe played. He might be the best basketball player in these parts since Wilt Chamberlain was at Philadelphia's Overbrook High 35 years ago.

Owens is 6 feet 9 and 210 pounds, runs like a sprinter, completes passes few other players would try and shoots three-pointers about as well as dunks. Recruiting services agree that, if he's not the best high school player, he's a close second to 6-10 Alonzo Mourning, who plans to attend Georgetown.

Owens averages 32 points and 12 rebounds. He has 2,600 points and his team has won state titles in each of his seasons.

"Billy Owens does things on the basketball floor that big people are not supposed to do," scholastic scout Howard Garfinkel says. "He is the best high school power forward of the 1980s."

"He not only scores, rebounds, plays defense, passes and blocks shots, he sees the whole court," Carlisle High Coach Dave Lebo says. "A lot of talented kids are known as scorers. Billy plays the whole game."

Owens, who will attend Syracuse, comes from an athletic family. Brother Michael, a sophomore running back at Syracuse, is the No. 10 rusher in state history and was called Carlisle's best all-around athlete since Thorpe.

"Those boys were always playing ball," Cheryl Knight, an aunt, says. "Billy's had a ball in his hands since he was 6 years old. Even when he was little, he'd watch games on TV and say, 'I want to do that.' Off to the playground he'd go and a little while later he could do what he saw on TV."

Jeff Lebo, Dave's son and a star guard at North Carolina, led Carlisle to the first of its three straight Pennsylvania Quad-A championships in 1985. Owens, then a 6-3 freshman, averaged 12 points and eight rebounds.

He averaged 24.6 as a 6-5 sophomore and 29.7 as a 6-7 junior, when he scored 31 points in Carlisle's 48-47 title game victory over Meadville. He should break Lebo's career scoring record within a week, and probably will finish as the third-best scorer the state has had.

"All that is nice, but my satisfaction comes from playing the best in the big games," he says. "Sometimes players are great against good teams but they don't play as well in the big games. I want the ball to come to me. I love pressure."

Although it was anything but a pressure game, he put on a three-ring-circus in Carlisle's victory over Central Dauphin East. He had 36 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and six slam dunks in 23 1/2 minutes.

In one sequence, he dunked home a missed shot, stole the in-bounds pass and passed behind his back to a wide-open teammate.

The statistic that most impresses Dave Lebo is Carlisle's 94-9 record with Owens. Carlisle was 0-7 in state playoff games until he arrived; it is 15-0 since. This season, it is 14-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state and 18th nationally by USA Today.

"More than anything else, he is a winner," Lebo said. "With his talent, he could have been content to be a big duck in a little pond, but he's always wanted to be a big duck in a big pond. Now, everybody in the state measures their success against him, against Carlisle."

"I've always wanted my senior year to be my show," Owens says, "not a one-man show, but a whole team show. I want to make all of our other players better."

Just as Jeff Lebo made Owens better by pushing him, motivating him, being an extra big brother. Owens picked Syracuse because his brother is there and he feels comfortable there. He almost went to UNC, though, because of Lebo.

"I think Coach {Dean} Smith's the best coach in the world. . . . He told me I had the potential to be a No. 1 draft choice in the pros," Owens said. "But, most of all, I would have loved to play with Jeff Lebo again."

The only question about Owens is whether he can play at all next year. Despite respectable grades, he hasn't met Proposition 48 guidelines. He can take the SAT test three more times and the ACT once more.

"At one game, the fans chanted, 'S-A-T, S-A-T,' " he said. "But those tests don't tell you how you're going to do in college. My brother's doing pretty well at Syracuse . . . But I will play next year. If I have to sit out a year, oh, man, that would be bad."

He "will be a major impact player in the Big East Conference," Pitt Coach Paul Evans says. "I think he'd be an impact player if he turned pro. In fact, I hope he does."

But before college and, maybe, the pros, Owens wants to be the first in the state to play on four straight title teams.

"I want to be remembered for the titles, for being a fun, exciting player," he said. "I want people in Carlisle to say 20 years from now, 'Those players today aren't anything. You should have seen that Owens.' "