Marcus Camby. DeMarcus Cousins. Anthony Davis. Nerlens Noel. Julius Randle. Kentucky coach John Calipari has a track record of developing the best young big men in the game before sending them off to greener pastures in the NBA. Yet somehow his teams haven’t featured a big man quite like Karl Towns Jr.
A 7-0, 250-pound forward/center with range extending out beyond the three-point line, and possessing great court vision and passing skills, Towns is really a one-of-a-kind player. Seriously, does that sentence describe your typical 250-pound center? Averaging 22.1 PPG, 14.6 RPG and 5.0 BPG for New Jersey’s St. Joseph High School, Towns is a member of the quadruple team of All-Americans taking their talents to Kentucky next year.
Before taking part in the McDonald’s All-American Game, Towns and I talked about Kentucky’s tournament run, his goals for next season, his game, and his life off the court.
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Dime: What were you looking for in a college, and how did Kentucky come about?
Karl Towns Jr.: I think that Kentucky offered me the whole package. You know, we don’t even have to talk about the tradition–Kentucky is one of the best at what they do in basketball. You put that with the major that I want to do in kinesiology, and they’re like top five/top three in the country. So you want to talk about everything; people tend to forget Kentucky is also a great educational school. So, they had the whole package for me. They had what I wanted to do after the ball got flat. They gave me the whole package to refill that ball with air, to live my life the way I want to.
Dime: What are your expectations for next season?
KT: You know, for me in my own mind I just expect us to be the best team that we can be, and I just expect us to make a nice run to the NCAA title. As far as expectations that should be my only one. If I expected anything less I would be letting down people.
Dime: Is it fair to expect you guys to want to say you want to win an NCAA title as an 18-year-old?
KT: It’s confidence; for them, last year’s team (the stellar Kentucky class, led by Julius Randle, that features six All-Americans) had confidence in their abilities and in what they could do. I respect them tremendously. I mean they didn’t go 40-0, but they’re really making a great run right now in the Final Four. So, I’m not going to make any promises, but I can definitely promise that we’re going to go out there and we’re going to work hard and do anything we can to be every single thing we can be.
Dime: What about that run this Kentucky team is on. What’s your prediction?
KT: Oh, man! I mean you’ve got me, Trey (Lyles), Tyler (Ulis), and D-Book (Devin Booker) going crazy at McDonald’s. You know the games just keep getting tighter and tighter, and I mean March Madness is just all about survival. I predict them doing really well, I think they have a great chance. They have the talent; we never doubted them on the talent, we always doubted if they could come together at the right time and right now they’re doing it.
Dime: Is there a lesson learned from this year’s team for you guys?
KT: I mean the lesson is you just keep fighting until the last dribble. You can’t let media bring you down. You can’t let anyone bring you down. You can’t stop when you see you might not make it. You just got to keep working, and they kept working just to be in the spot to be in the NCAA tournament–they’re making every dribble count.