Karl-Anthony Towns goes from NJ to NBA
New Jersey native Karl-Anthony Towns is at the center of the sports world, projected to be the first selection in tonight's NBA Draft.
For the 19-year-old, it's the culmination of a long journey that began in Piscataway, NJ, followed by a one year stop in Lexington, KY.
But, for the 6'11 Towns, who beams with Jersey pride, everything has come full-circle. The NBA Draft takes place in Brooklyn, not-too-far from his hometown.
"This is awesome to have this moment," Towns said at his Wednesday media availability. "A lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, a lot of hours in the gym, and some great support system that I've been blessed and fortunate to have."
The location of the festivities has allowed Towns to spend a lot of time recently back in his native Piscataway, along with other favorite spots around Middlesex County.
"I've been fortunate enough to have some time to come back here," he said.
"I just had a blast coming back home really reliving the way I used to live before all of this madness started."
The 19-year-old was a prep star at St. Joseph of Metuchen, where he lead the Falcons to a Tournament of Champions title and was named New Jersey Player of the Year and Gatorade National Player of the Year.
Following the remarkable high school run, Towns committed to the University of Kentucky to play under Coach John Calipari. He enjoyed even more success for the Wildcats, helping the team to an historic 38-0 start before they fell to Wisconsin in the Final Four.
Towns entered the NBA Draft after just one season in Kentucky, with nearly every expert projecting him no lower than the second player picked. The number one pick belongs to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who appear likely to select Towns just after 7 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The only other candidate to possibly knock Towns out of the top spot would be Duke big man Jahlil Okafor, but that remains unlikely.
Towns' selection in the top two would mark the third time in five years that a New Jersey prospect was picked in the top two. The others were West Orange's Kyrie Irving in 2011 and Somerdale native Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in 2012.
"It's amazing to think how much talent comes from New Jersey," Towns said. "I think why New Jersey is so much different than everyone else is the abundance of talent."
In fact, he credits much of the development of his game to the wicked competition he faced on a daily basis in his home state.
Tonight, though, Towns will celebrate the long road to the NBA with a huge group of supporters expected to make the short trip to Brooklyn.
"Probably close to 40. I'm born here. I'm raised here. I have a lot of family here," Towns said. "It's going to be fun to see my close friends and family enjoying one of the best moments in my life."
The imminent millionaire said he plans to save as much money as possible, but will make one exception for two very special women in his life.
"My mom and my sister love lobster and shrimp. I want to make sure they're eating lobster and shrimp for the rest of their life," Towns said.
The Piscataway kid will have no trouble affording such foods after his name is called out by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver just after 7 p.m. this evening.