Basketball is an ever-changing game. From the addition to the 3-point line, to the type of athlete playing the game and even the creation of the NBA age minimum, the game has undergone massive transformation since the original peach basket days. Included in that change is the way young talent is spotted, evaluated and advanced to the next level.
Everyone wants to find the next Michael Jordan or LeBron James. Many have pegged Michigan State recruit Jabari Parker as “the next big thing”. But what if there was a player even younger than Parker that collegiate coaches are salivating over? Someone who can hold his own with elite NBA talent at the age of 16? Most importantly though, what if that player wanted to come to Michigan State and play basketball under Tom Izzo?
Spartans fans, meet Karl Towns Jr. a 6’11 monster from Metuchen, New Jersey who is better than advertised. He recently spoke on Spartan Nation Radio with Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr. The Michigan State target is a hybrid unlike any other. His game combines the best of every position to form the complete prospect. With all of his early success, nothing brought more joy and satisfaction than an offer to play basketball for Tom Izzo and the Spartans. Towns and his father, Karl Towns, Sr. joined Hondo recently on Spartan Nation Radio.
“I was overseas and didn’t know anything about it,” said Towns Jr. “I got a call from a friend of mine saying that I was offered and then as I was going on the internet my dad called me and told me that I was offered by Michigan State. My dad got the call and [the coaches] said ‘we really want your kid, he has great character.’ I was just excited because I can save my mom and dad hundreds of thousands of dollars by going to one of the greatest college campuses for basketball. So I was just excited to have a chance to play and be a great part of the history of Michigan State basketball.”
The scholarship wasn’t just a big deal to Towns Jr., but to his father, Karl Towns Sr. as well. He also spoke with Hondo on Spartan Nation Radio.
“We love coach Izzo and what he has done at Michigan State,” said Towns Sr. “Michigan State camp was the first camp that Karl ever went to. We went up to Michigan State and we loved it. Coach Izzo is probably one of the classiest coaches that we have ever met. We were very happy and very honored that they thought that highly of my son after just one year of high school.”
Towns Jr.’s game is unlike any other ever seen. He is a natural power forward/center due to his stature, but he has a jump shot like a shooting guard, and his range is legitimately unbelievable.
“As a younger kid, my dad always had me playing guard,” said Towns Jr. “Now I’m stepping up into being a center. Yes I could hit a 40-foot jumper (he did so in 8th grade), but now my strength is in the post. My game is evolving every day and I have my dad and my coaches to thank for that. My game, I’ve tried to shape it around Kevin Durant’s with a Len Bias attitude. The best comparison might be Chris Mullin. I think I am a stronger, taller Chris Mullin and I love Chris Mullin.”
Towns, who was born in 1995, has more talent at his age than most have ever seen at his age.
“He is the real deal,” said one NBA GM who asked to remain unnamed.
Even with all of the attention, Towns Jr., who will be a high school sophomore come September, has remained extremely grounded.
“Since I was young, I’ve always put myself around the right people,” explained Towns Jr. “My teammates, my mom and dad, they always keep me grounded. My sister is keeping me grounded anywhere I go. Every time I think I’ve done something good, she is there to bring me right back down. Not to make me feel bad, but to remind me that I have something more to prove and something more to do. I just wanted to put myself around people that wanted to be good people. You can’t fall into peer pressure and you have to put yourself around people that want to help you be a good person.”
His parents have a great deal to do with his positive attitude. Both work in education in New Jersey and have stressed academics from a very young age.
“His mother and I have high standards for our children,” said Karl Towns Sr. “I’m a school teacher and she works at a university. We have been very high on education and he has shown the ability to be a highly educated person, with a 4.3 grade point average. He wants to be a doctor. Karl has been taught about life after basketball so he is into his education. He is articulate and can express himself very well.”
With his out of this world talent, many on the basketball circuit would love to see him go up against the likes of Lebron James, a tall task, but one that he would take head on.
“[LeBron] is a big guy but I would love to compete against him,” said Towns Jr. “Maybe if Draymond Green helps me out we can work it out.”
Towns Jr. has almost every coach of a high-level division one school following his every move. One of those coaches, John Calipari of Kentucky, is also the coach of the Dominican Republic Basketball Team. Though the country did not qualify for the Olympics, Towns still represented the Island in international competition. By doing so, he had the opportunity to go up against Team USA in a pre-Olympic game.
“It was a great experience,” said Towns Jr. “To be able to play with Al Horford and Francisco Garcia, and learn under them and playing against the best players in the world, it just made me a better player. These same human beings made me a better human being because it humbled me. For this experience to be given to a 16 year old at such a young age means the world to me. The fact that a nation has this much trust to say, Karl go put a nation on your back and represent us is just an amazing feeling.”
By playing in the international competitions, it gave Towns Jr. an opportunity to play under Calipari. That doesn’t mean that he is attending Kentucky. The St. Joesph’s (NJ) product is going to take his time and carefully select his university.
“I’ve had great people around me,” said Towns Jr. “They have kept me on a steady pace and I am in no rush to make a decision. I think the decision will come my senior year and when the time comes I just want to make sure that I pick the right school for my family and me.”
Those around him have helped keep Towns Jr. disciplined as he tries to attain his goals.
“It all goes back to the fact that my wife and I are educators,” said Towns Sr. “We want what’s best for other children as we want for our own. How can we discipline another kid if we can’t discipline our own? We just want everyone in the Spartan Nation to know that our kid is humble and enjoys everything about life.”
Even though Towns Jr. has all of the talent in the world at his fingertips, he still understands how important it is to hit the gym and conduct his on the court manner as a professional
“I’ve always been very social, but when it comes to going on the court, I have always been very quiet,” said Towns Jr. “My sister put this mentality in me that you go into the gym, you get your work done and you get your job done. You get it done as efficiently and as quietly as possible. You don’t want to brag. I want to put the work in, get the W and leave the gym.”