PORTLAND, Ore. – University of Kentucky-bound center Karl-Anthony Towns Jr. met with a kinesiologist last week to learn more about the field he plans on studying in college. The 7-footer, who is already on the NBA radar, walked out of the meeting also having learned he could grow three more inches.
"Growing up, I've always been that tall kid and now I can be that taller kid," Towns said. "If I could play the way I play now with that height, it would be really great."
Towns, 17, was named the 2014 Gatorade Player of the Year after averaging 21.5 points, 13.7 rebounds and 6.4 blocks as a senior this past season for St. Joseph's High School in Metuchen, N.J. The member of the Dominican Republic National Team played for the World Team during Saturday's Hoop Summit.
Towns' father said it's still undecided as to whether his son will play for the Dominican Republic in the 2014 World Cup in Spain or for Kentucky in an exhibition summer slate in Spain. It appears to be Kentucky coach John Calipari's decision.
One NBA scout said Karl-Anthony Towns is among the top-five players in the college class of 2014. Another NBA scout said that as long as Towns gets stronger during his freshman year at Kentucky, he has the potential to be selected in the lottery during the 2015 draft. Towns has the ability to not only play well inside, but he also can dribble, shoot and move well as a 7-footer.
"He's very skilled and has a very good feel for playing the game of basketball," one NBA scout said. "He's strong. He plays his position well. There are not a lot of basketball players with his feel for the game. He can face up and make jump shots. He's special."
On whether he could go to the NBA after his freshman year, Towns said: "I got a great support system and all my focus right now is on going to Kentucky and winning a national title."
Towns could become even more intriguing to NBA scouts if he grows to 7-3.
A kinesiologist told Towns last week he still has room in his growth plate to grow three more inches. Towns wears a size-20 basketball shoe.
Mobile and skilled NBA centers taller than 7-2 are rare. The short list includes 7-4 former Houston Rockets center Ralph Sampson, who was plagued by knee problems, 7-4 former Indiana Pacers center Rik Smits and 7-3 former Portland Trail Blazers center Arvydas Sabonis. Towns is confident that if he grows to 7-3 it won't hurt him.
"If I keep working the way I work and practice the way I practice with the weight lifting and the training, I feel like I can do that or be even better," Towns said.
Though young, Towns has an old-school love for the game.
He is developing a skyhook patterned from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and says he is trying to defend like A.C. Green. He has watched YouTube to learn moves from Magic Johnson, Shawn Kemp, Sam Perkins, Toni Kukoc, George Gervin and the late Len Bias. Towns has read basketball instructional books from Johnson Kemp, Michael Jordan and Julius Erving. His favorite basketball player of all-time is Bias and his father has made him a fan of the 1981 movie "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh" starring Erving.
"I do a lot of studying," Towns said. "If you want to be good at this game, you have to learn from the past and the present. You have to be a student of the game."
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