For a long time, it was a foregone conclusion that Jahlil Okafor would be the No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft. As we all know, though, that honor went to Karl-Anthony Towns, who never really thought of himself as the No. 1 overall pick – until he became one.
“For me, it wasn’t really worrying the whole season about going No. 1; it was more about just making sure that we did the best we could to win as many games as possible,” Towns said in-studio on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I always had confidence in my skills and my ability. There’s no doubt. But the fact of the matter is, you go to Kentucky – and the way I always played, I never played for personal success. I always played for team success, so I never looked at myself being the No. 1 pick because I never looked that far down. I just was looking at the present and making sure that we won every single game we played in.”
Kentucky is the ideal place to do that, especially for a one-and-done.
“I just looked at the University of Kentucky in three ways,” Towns said. “One, I did have aspirations to be an NBA player, so I thought that Kentucky does give me a good chance of doing that. But the main two things was one, I really wanted to do something after basketball. I always wanted to be a doctor and they’re one of the better doctor programs in the county, especially for what I wanted to do.”
Towns wants to do kinesiology. In fact, he took more credits than he needed to while playing at Kentucky and is still taking classes now.
“And the third stone of picking Kentucky was I wanted to win,” Towns said. “You’re in a winning tradition. I’ve been fortunate enough to win three state titles at St. Joseph Metuchen in high school, so I just wanted to continue my winning success, winning tradition.”
Towns certainly did that, leading Kentucky to a 38-1 record and the Final Four. Now he’ll be asked to helpful transform a Minnesota Timberwolves squad that went 16-66 and finished with the worst record in basketball last season. Minnesota hasn’t made the playoffs since 2004 but has several young players to build around, including Andrew Wiggins, 20, and Ricky Rubio, 24.
“Being with them for a little bit already now, I just know that we have a lot of talent. We’re really young, too,” said Towns, 19. “We got a lot of talent with a really young core that reminds me a lot of the Kentucky team I just played for: very young, a lot of talent. The biggest goal that we have to do is make sure we come together. If we come together, we could be a very special team, especially even in the (Western Conference).”
Towns was asked about the prospect of playing 82 games – about 50 more than he played during the regular season at Kentucky. Towns, however, plans on playing far more than that.
“I’m going in not even looking at 82 games,” he said. “I’m going in looking at us playing about 100. That’s always my philosophy.”