METUCHEN, N.J.— Karl Towns
, arguably the nation's top recruit for the class of 2015, made two big announcements Tuesday morning from St. Joseph (Metuchen, N.J.)
"The first decision for today is that I'm going to reclassify to the year 2014 and I made that decision with my family," Towns said. "The second decision that I have to make is my university, and the university I've decided to play in the year 2014 is … the University of Kentucky."
While Towns attempted to provide the requisite suspense to his decision, it came as little surprise that the 6-foot-10 center would reunite with Kentucky head coach John Calipari. Towns spent the summer playing under Calipari for the Dominican Republic national team as it vied for a slot at the Olympic Games.
The team fell short of its goal, but the bond forged between Towns and Calipari proved too much for the other suitors, most notably Duke and Florida, the two schools with the best outside chances of landing the star recruit.
"It was a big battle between Duke and Kentucky," Towns's mother, Jackie, said at the press conference.
When Towns was on hand and flashing his winning smile at Rupp Arena for the Wildcats 104-75 win over LIU Brooklyn on Nov. 23, his decision date of Dec. 4 seemed a mere formality.
While undoubtedly the highest-ranked recruit to verbally commit for 2014, Towns adds to the luster of Kentucky's list of 2013 signings. Prior to Towns's decision, commitments from Andrew
and Aaron Harrison
of Fort Bend Travis (Richmond, Texas)
, James Young
of Rochester (Rochester Hills, Mich.)
and Marcus Lee
of Deer Valley (Antioch, Calif.)
already secured the Wildcats the No. 1 Recruiting Class for this year.
Highly sought recruits Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, and Aaron Gordon are still undecided at this point, and it would be foolish to count Kentucky out of the mix.
What makes Towns such a jewel is not just his size — he claims to have surpassed the 7-foot mark — but also his ability to do damage away from the low post. During his freshman campaign at St. Joes, Towns averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds and helped lead the team to its first Non-Public A state title in school history. En route to the state title, Towns drained 63 3-pointers.
After losing Anthony Davis, the college player of the year and No. 1 pick of the 2012 NBA draft, Kentucky reloaded with highly-sought big man Nerlens Noel of The Tilton School (Everett, Mass.). While Towns can finish and block shots much like Davis and Noel, his perimeter game adds a dimension that separates him from his Kentucky predecessors.
This season, Towns' plan is to lead the Falcons to another state title and to further develop his interior game. He credits his time under Calipari and Dominican Republic assistant coach Del Harris to have strengthened his post skills. Now, he'll have just two more seasons to do so at the high school level as his academic standing qualifies him to graduate in a year ahead of schedule.Shawn Layton, an English teacher at
Hillsborough (N.J.) High, has covered high school and college basketball for
various publications for the last nine years. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org