Karl Towns Recaps CTC Experience

Karl Towns

Karl Towns sits down with TDD to discuss a number of recent unofficial visits including his trips to Lexington for Midnight Madness and Durham for Countdown to Craziness.

Already considered the top prospect in the class of 2015, Karl Towns has garnered attention from every high major school in the country. Two of those schools, Duke and Kentucky, recently hosted the five star big forward for unofficial visits as they began their respective seasons. After returning home, Towns sat down to discuss those trips, his recruitment, and his thoughts on potentially reclassifying.

TDD: Starting with the Kentucky visit, I saw that UK's All-Access show was filming for ESPNU. Did you have a chance to see any of the behind the scenes goings on?

Karl Towns: Actually, the film crew was real small. It was like one guy…kinda like what Hoop Mix Tape does. He just had his one camera and he was all over the place. It was pretty surprising when I found out that was ESPN All Access.

How different was it seeing Kentucky visiting as a recruit versus being there for the Dominican Republic team practices?

It was very different. The first time I was really only at the practice facility on campus, and this time was the first time I got to see a lot more this time. We got an up-close look of Rupp Arena, and to see what the environment was like. I really didn't even see too much of the campus. People don't realize, but when I was practicing for the Dominican team we didn't stay at the Hilton by Rupp Arena as a team. We stayed like 20 minutes away, and were never all that close.

So what was your impression of what you got to see this time?

It was really really nice. I have to say the first time seeing the campus was really enjoyable.

Can you take us through your impressions of seeing the offices and backstage areas up close, and then seeing them on TV? What was different?

Coach Cal's office was really small in person. They actually made it look a little bigger on TV. He didn't really say why he had such a small office, but I think it's just because the type of person that he his. He doesn't see a big office being a necessity because he's more about the kids having the space that they need and he'll just take what left's over.

Offices aside, what were the interactions with Coach Cal like during your trip?

I enjoyed it. It was the first time where I really got to sit down with him and really talk as a recruit.

How was it different than your Olympic experience?

You know, honestly, I didn't see any difference. He treated me the same. He treated me as one of his players and I really liked that.

Was the experience on All-Access the same as it was in person?

Oh yeah, if there's one thing I can say about Coach Calipari, it's that what he says on TV, it's the exact same thing when you are in person with him. Everything you hear from him on the show, you hear yourself in person. It's pretty funny actually, because it was like deja vu. He's the same coach on the court as he is on television.

How do you react to that style of coaching?

It just shows building blocks that I have to do in my life in order for things to progress with him and he just wants to be a part of that. With Coach Cal, he always says it's about the kids and he wants them to know that they have more to accomplish in life than maybe what they are thinking of right now.

Can you share any specific examples of how he relates to you when he tailors his recruiting pitch for you?

For me, he just wants to win a national championship with me. That's his biggest thing. He said if you come, I want to win a national championship with you in our program. For him, it's all about winning and he really wants to win, and he thinks I can help him do that.

Did he share with you at all about what their recruiting plans are for 2014 and your class?

He was just focusing on telling me the option is out there now if I want to come to Kentucky and be a part of the program. He said the decision is up to me now, and knowing me from the summer, he knows that I'm all about winning. He also said he knows I'm scoping the classes to see who would give me the best chance at winning a national championship. He knows that I'm not saying that I don't have to come in with the best players in the country, it's just all about finding the right fit for me and what helps me win a national championship.

How big a deal is it to know what's happening with a school's depth chart in terms of guys going pro and new guys coming in as you evaluate things?

You know, it's really hard because things can change pretty quickly.You never know when the depth chart can change. For me, I'm concentrating on becoming the best player I can be, because I can control that. When the time comes for me to make a decision, I'll be ready to make the right decision based on the people there and also what's happening with the NCAA. You know, with the NCAA cracking down so much on schools right now, being able to play is a big thing to me.

Can you elaborate on the NCAA comment?

I would never wish for anything bad to happen to any school that's recruiting me because all it takes is one star player getting in trouble, and a school can be in a lot of trouble with the NCAA. If it happens, that's going to hurt everybody at that school, and it'll have them on SportsCenter and all that.

I get those SportsCenter updates when stuff like that gets announced, and I believe the NCAA is trying to do their job. Because of that, you really have to respect what they are doing and try to keep the game clean.

Do you see yourself wanting to go in as the centerpiece of a recruiting class or do you see yourself potentially wanting to play with other really talented players in your group?

I'm all about winning. I would like to go a school that would give me the best chance to do that. For me, I've never been the centerpiece, and I don't feel like have to be. Last year at St Joe's I had a pretty good year, but I was nowhere near the centerpiece of that team. It's just not a big thing to me. It's more about getting the ring.

How do facilities and things like that factor into your decision?

It really doesn't matter to me. I mean, it's nice to have, but it's way more important to me that the team is constructed well and what helps us have the best chance to win a national championship. The practice facility can be a plus, but at St Joe's  we don't really have an amazing facility so it's always been more important to me to have good team practices than having a nice practice facility but lousy practices.

Can you elaborate on the "team being constructed well" comment?

It means that a team is put together well with players who work together. For example, at St Joe's we had a really good year because we had guys at every position that were meant to be there. We had a shooting guard that was good in his spot, and so on. It's a really good thing for me to know with college is do they have a guy at each position that can play his natural position and role that comes with that position.

When you talk about having defined roles, how does that affect you fitting in since you are such a versatile player?

For me, it's a big thing to have defined roles and roles that guys can succeed in. I've worked really hard in the gym to be able to play the three, four, or five position. Because of that, it'd be great if I'm able to play in that kind of role. I just want to go to the best team that helps me have the best chance to win.

With versatility in mind, how do you evaluate schools in regards to who is there at the power forward and center positions?

I just want to go a place that fits my game and lets me use all my talent and be a versatile player. I've worked hard to not just play one position, so the ability to be versatile in college is really important to me. I want to continue doing that in college and will adapt.

Before we talk about the Duke visit, I am curious to hear your thoughts on the recent re-classifying of Andrew Wiggins?

To be honest with you, he's such a talented player, and I can't wait to see what college he picks. I'm going to follow his career as it grows.

How do you feel about the re-classifying trend for the elite guys in their classes?

I feel that if you have the chance and the talent, and your body and athletic ability are ready along with your mentality are ready to make that jump, then I really feel you should do it. My grandfather used to always say to me, "Don't waste your time in the present when you should already be in the future." I think it's a good thing for guys who you know have the talent and opportunity to do it, but you have to be careful too with thinking you are ready when you aren't.

Do you ever see yourself potentially thinking about making such a move?

You know, I think more people see me being able to do it than I see myself being able to do it. I didn't even know about Andrew Wiggins until people came up to me at school and asked if I had heard that he had moved up to 2013, and I was totally shocked. Everyone seems to be saying that I could possibly do that, but I don't even see myself as being ready for it.

Who would you most rely on if you got to a point where it may make sense for you?

That's a great question, and I really have no idea at this time. Probably my coaches and my family.

Switching topics to the Duke visit, you were part of a pretty big group of recruits visits, right?

Definitely. Jahlil Okafor, Theo Pinson, and Tyus Jones are all great guys and we became good friends. Getting to meet guys that are talented like you, and who are blessed by God, it's just such a blessing. Seeing their views of the game was really great. I didn't know much about who they were before the visit, and being able to talk with them is nice. Especially in picking their brains.

All of our families were interacting, and we learned a lot from each other. We were all strong as family units, and that was cool to see.

So how did the Duke staff structure the visit for you?

We got there in the afternoon before the Countdown to Craziness and took a tour of the campus, which was really great. After that we just enjoyed the day and being around the fans. It was a phenomenal Midnight Madness event. Then we went back, got some sleep and came back the next morning for practice.

What kind of questions did you go into the visit with?

We really had a clean mind and open mind to see how the school was, and we really enjoyed the time we had there.

Any examples of interactions with the fans there at Duke?

The biggest interaction at Duke was when we were going to seats. When we came in, the fans were chanting our names and making us feel very welcomed. That was just really awesome. It just shows all the work us recruits put in, it really pays off with the campuses being hype for us.

How so?

I think all of us, as recruits, we were all really proud of what we had accomplished. To have the aspirations that we have to play this game to provide for our families, and then to see thousands of people recognizing you for your talent at places like Duke, it just means a lot. It was just a really great moment for all of us at Duke and we just took it in and were thankful and also motivated by it, just to keep becoming better players.

How much interaction did you have with Coach Krzyzewski while you were there?

We had a good amount of time with him, and I really was were picking his brain about the game. Him and I were talking about the Olympics, which was great. Coach K is the greatest coach of all time, so getting to talk with him is just really great. I felt like I became a better player by just sitting there and talking with him.

Any examples of what you learned?

Watching the practice, they were running some plays that seemed familiar to me from the Olympics and so I asked him where he got those from. He ran a play that looked like a play that Nigeria ran, and I pointed that out to him. He told me I got it right, and then he shared about why they are running that play at Duke now and how it's going to help them. Stuff like that helps me learn and also how he taught me how they switch plays up, that helps me too.

What kind of stuff did he share during the game?

He talked a lot about their players and what they do to help them be successful with the way they already play as players, and how they would be used.

What did you think of the team?

Man, they have some real talent on that team and as a whole, they look like a team that could win a national championship. Duke has a really good chance to make that happen, especially since they have Coach K coaching them.

Any other visits lined up to other schools in the future?

Nothing right now. These vista are actually it for right now unless my coach wants to set something up.

So what earned Duke and Kentucky the opportunity to have you in for the visits several times?

Sometimes you need a second look in order to confirm your initial impressions of schools. That's what this was about.

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