METUCHEN, N.J. —
As arguably the biggest day of his young career nears, 6-foot-10 sophomore Karl Towns
of St. Joseph (Metuchen, N.J.)
has limited his list of suitors to eight, keeping fans of those programs waiting in anticipation.
Towns, a candidate for the No. 1 prospect tag in the 2015 class but pondering the idea of re-classifying to fast track his college arrival, will formally announce his choice Tuesday at 10 a.m. The decision will be streamed live at msgvarsity.com.
After making a second visit to Kentucky on Nov. 23 for a victory over Long Island-Brooklyn, Towns had many thinking his decision is a foregone conclusion. Apparently, not so.
"I'm still trying to find that one school that suits me best, both academically and athletically," Towns said. "I'm going into this with the mindset of getting a great education and being grateful to have the opportunity to get a scholarship."
In addition to Kentucky, Duke, Florida, Indiana, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Rutgers and Seton Hall are in the mix for his services.
Towns honed his skills this past summer competing for the Dominican Republic national team as it fought for a slot at the Olympic Games. The team fell short of qualifying, but Towns, playing alongside Al Horford and under the tutelage of Kentucky head coach John Calipari, used the opportunity to strengthen his post game.
"Last year, we had some really great players at St. Joes," Towns said. "As a result, I could get myself open on the perimeter and take people away from Quen (Quenton DeCosey). This season, I want to be in the post. That's what I've been working so hard at since last year.
Any footage from his freshman year, a year in which St. Joseph captured its first Non-Public A State title in school history, will give viewers a glimpse of the trouble Towns created from the wing for opposing teams. Adept with both hands, a great passer, and a consistent ability to knock down the 3-pointer, Towns drew comparisons to the likes of Kevin Durant.
With last season's leading scorer Quenton DeCosey playing for Temple, Towns will be the No. 1 option for the Bulldogs this winter. As if he wasn't the total package before, his refined post-game could make him the unquestionable top recruit of 2015. Of course, that would mean Towns sticks around to play another year of high school ball.
"I have thought about re-classifying, but it may not happen," Towns said. "I'm really trying to take things one day at a time and celebrating my decision day with my family and friends."
Towns, despite the possibility of being an NBA lottery pick in the not too distant future, is hesitant to get ahead of himself. Aware of the current trend for top recruits to enter the draft after a single season at the college level, Towns prefers to look forward to the academic possibilities that await him.
"I think guys that go into college with the mindset of not focusing on academics are going into it the wrong way," Towns said. "For me, academics are a big part of the game plan. I'm interested in studying kinesiology and business because you always need a back-up plan. There will come a day when that orange basketball will no longer bounce for you."
Towns doesn't have far to look for such role models. In addition to NBA star Andrew Bynum, St. Joe's was the high school home of Jay Williams. After a stellar career at Duke, Williams had his blossoming pro career derailed after motorcycle accident. Fortunately, Williams used his other skills to join the ESPN staff as a college hoops analyst.
"No one is invincible," Towns said. "One mistake or accident can detour you for life."
A personal hero for Towns is the late Len Bias. A star at University of Maryland and the No. 2 overall pick of the 1986 draft, Bias was supposed to be the next NBA star. He didn't play a single professional game after dying just days after the draft due to complications from cocaine use.
"He was an amazing player and I think his game reminds me of my game," Towns said. "His story should be told because it provides such an important lesson for all of us."
Towns isn't too bad at teaching lessons himself. Living in the moment, valuing education and striving for self-improvement—Towns is poised to take more than just his opponents on the hardwood to school.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