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.
The 7-foot-1 Towns captured the New Jersey Tournament of Champions crown on Monday night with his St. Joe’s-Metuchen teammates and is now turning his gaze to his future school — Kentucky — and their chances of winning a second NCAA championship in three years.
“I definitely think they got the talent,” Towns, who was also named the Gatorade National Player of the Year, told SNY.tv Monday night. “They got the talent. They’re coming together at the right time at the right place. It’s March Madness, anything’s possible.”
Kentucky will face arch-rival Louisville Friday in the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis, pitting John Calipari against Rick Pitino one more time. The two schools have won the last two NCAA championships, with Kentucky beating Louisville in the 2012 national semifinals en route to Calipari’s first title. A year later, Pitino became the first coach to win NCAA titles at two different schools.
“I’m very excited,” Towns said. “I watched all their games all year and I’m just glad that they’re in the Sweet 16 right now. I think they have a great chance going against Louisville. They beat them already once this year so they know the model of success they have to go after. They just need to execute, and if they execute they can come out with another W.”
Towns says he’s “been wishing [Calipari] luck and they’ve been wishing me luck.”
Karl Towns Sr. said “it was just a good week for Kentucky.”
“We won, they won [Sunday],” he told SNY.tv. “If they would’ve played closer [than Indianapolis] we were going to try to go to the game.”
Assumimg Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee return, Kentucky will have a slew of bigs next year with Towns and Trey Lyles coming in. Towns can bang down low, as evidence by a key defensive rebound late in the TOC final, but he can also shoot from distance and play on the perimeter.
“Well, Cal’s going to use [Towns] everywhere,” his father said. “The problem here is you just gotta be able to utilize your strengths and I think Cal knows how to utilize Karl so when he gets to that next level and hopefully they’re on top, we’ll know exactly what he needs to do. Come off the picks, get him involved more, but Cal will definitely put him in the right position.”
He added: “I’m hoping that Karl gets a chance to show what he can do on the block and on the perimeter. I think with those guys coming back, we’ll be a strong nucleus. With the pieces coming in we’re going to be OK. I think Kentucky basketball, especially after the Wichita State win, I think we’re going to be on our way.”
All four Kentucky commits — Towns, Lyles, Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis — were chosen to compete next month in both the McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Classic games. Towns was also named the New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year.
For now, Karl Sr. is just pleased his son won the big one after losing in last year’s final.
“He’s finally legit,” he said. “He solidified his legacy. At least people won’t say he can’t go out there and win the big one.”
Photo: Star Ledger
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.