Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Kentucky-Bound Towns Says Only Goal Next Year is a National Championship
ROSELLE, N.J. — Karl Towns Jr. came up one victory shy of winning the New Jersey Tournament of Champions last season.
Now in his final year at St. Joe’s-Metuchen, the newly-minted McDonald’s All-American has two main goals going forward.
No. 1: He wants to win the TOC in his final year of high school.
“My goal for the rest of the season is to win the TOC,” the 7-foot Towns said after putting up 19 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 assists as St. Joe’s hammered Pace Academy (N.C.), 91-57, in the PrimeTime Shootout at Roselle Catholic. “Nothing else matters.”
St. Joe’s is one of about half a dozen New Jersey schools that seem capable of winning the TOC, along with defending champ Roselle Catholic, Linden, St. Anthony, Newark East Side, The Patrick School and Paterson Eastside.
As for goal No. 2?
That has to do with his freshman season next year at Kentucky, where there could be a crowded frontcourt.
“I don’t worry about playing time at all next year,” Towns said. “I just worry about winning a National Championship. My only focus for next year is winning a title at Kentucky. Nothing else matters.”
Towns is part of a four-man class headed to Kentucky that includes point guard Tyler Ulis, shooting guard Devin Booker and power forward Trey Lyles. Booker went off for 41 points Friday night during his Senior Night at Moss Point (MS).
All four were named to the McDonald’s All-American Game set for April 2 in Chicago.
“It’s just another dominating class for Kentucky and the McDonald’s committee proved it,” Towns said.
As for him making the game, Towns added: “Being able to participate in the McDonald’s All-American game is a tremendous honor. I’m so glad that I was selected and can’t wait to go out there. I’ve looked at the rosters, but I’m just really happy to be out there.”
Towns and the other three Kentucky pledges remain in touch via texts and social media.
“We all stay in constant touch with each other,” he said. “We make sure that we chat with each other every week because we want to make sure that we have good chemistry.”
The quartet will likely be joined by several returning Kentucky players, likely including bigs Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee, and possibly guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison along with Dominique Hawkins.
As his final high school season progresses, Towns is working on developing his game and body.
“All of my moves have become more polished,” he said. “I’ve worked hard to improve each of my skills. I’ve worked a lot of my pull-up game and my ability to shoot off of the dribble. I’ve learned how to dribble much better. My post-up is much, much improved. I’ve learned to become a better leader, on and off the court.”
He’s also working on his body.
“My body is a lot more changed,” he said. “It’s a lot more physical. Just doing everything possible to be the best player I can be from the start at Kentucky.”
The way Kentucky coach John Calipari has used Julius Randle this season by playing him on the perimeter at times, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the 7-foot Towns doing some similar things next year.
“Coach Cal told me to enjoy my senior year of high school and always run the floor,” he said. “He told me that he wanted to always lead my team and make sure to lead my team to victory.”
As for the immediate future, St. Joe’s will face legendary coach Kevin Boyle and Montverde (FL) Academy next weekend in the Metro Classic at Kean.
“I’m really looking forward to that game,” he said. “It’s just a great game. Monteverde is a great team and (LSU-bound junior Ben Simmons) is obviously a very good player, but they’re just one of the biggest names on our schedule. It’s just one of those games that you get to compete against a truly great team that’s loaded with players. You look forward to those games. We’re fortunate that we get to go play basketball against them next week.”
And after that, Towns will continue pursuit of his twin championship goals.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.