Karl-Anthony Towns (Freshman, Kentucky)
Power Forward-Center/7’0/250/Age: 18
Product of…St. Joseph’s (Piscataway, NJ) via the Dominican Republic
Quick Stats (as of February 10th):
9.0 points/game, 6.2 rebounds/game, 1.1 assists/game
Karl-Anthony Towns is beginning to come alive for coach John Calipari’s undefeated Kentucky Wildcats (24-0). The highly-skilled freshman possesses a very unique game that most youngsters take years to develop. With range out to the college three-point line, Towns is capable of stretching defenders out to the perimeter to open up driving lanes for teammates. If that’s not impressive enough, he seems to finally be turning the corner by playing with more aggression each game.
Earlier in the season, Towns had trouble bringing a consistent effort to the table each night despite his tremendous talent and potential to dominate. In his last few games, however, he’s averaged 15.3 points and 12 boards while defiantly making a strong impact on the outcome of games. Though he still needs to polish his footwork and better use his body for positioning, the upside is definitely there.
Come June, it would be a huge surprise if Towns falls outside of the top 5 in the draft.
-Combination of size (7’0, 250) and skill level is rarely seen from bigs during the early stages of their basketball lives; great rebounding and shot blocking instincts, though he lacks elite athleticism
-Good shooter able to stretch defenses to the perimeter. Though he won’t likely shoot threes at the next level, teams cannot afford the luxury of sagging off; on defense, can effectively switch onto smaller players without it being an easy mismatch for the opposition
-Loaded with intangibles; coaching staff raves about his excellent character and work ethic; potential to develop into a perennial All-Star under the right tutelage
-Post offense is a work in progress; often gets pushed off of his ideal spot although he’s usually much larger than his counterpart
-Too passive at times, especially since Coach Cal’s Wildcats are loaded with talent. Last few games have shown otherwise but needs to display aggression night in and night out
-Body is a work in progress, as with most teenagers heading into the professional ranks; has a very strong upper body and core but needs to develop a stronger base to get better positioning on the block
D.O.G. Status: Towns will be a star in the NBA. His combination of skills (shooting, defense, passing), work ethic and size are easy reasons why teams will be salivating at the chance to select him in a few months.
Though early returns might not be overwhelming in the first couple of seasons, Towns should take the NBA by storm once he further grows into his body and figures out his game by Year 3.
NBA Comparison: Al Horford/Vlade Divac