The average American teenage basketball player likes to spend his spare time hanging out with friends, going to the mall and playing video games. But for today's elite prospects, the spotlight shines so brightly so early that is often difficult for them to live the normal lifestyle. Balancing hard work on the court, maintaining good grades in school and having a social life is a full load; and usually, one of the three has to go.
However, 2015 prospect Karl Towns is trying to start a new trend; an average kid with superstar abilities. Modeled in the path of current NBA icons like Kevin Durant, a transcendent talent on the court but a quiet and humble icon off of it, Towns lives an unassuming lifestyle at Metuchen (N.J.) Saint Joseph's school.
Despite standing 6-foot-11, potentially being the top prospect in the nation in his 2015 class and drawing comparisons to a young Durant or Dirk Nowitzki, Towns seems normal.
"He gets to enjoy the game as a kid, even though he often plays like a man," said Town's father who is also named Karl, "We try to keep him in a normal lifestyle. He does his homework, he plays video games, hangs out with his boys; but, once he steps on that court its all business."
While Rivals.com has yet to rank prospects in the 2015 class, Towns projects as a sure fire five-star prospect; one who could very well sit at the top of the ranking boards. All that success means a lot to the Towns family, but they're just brushing it off right now while Karl continues to develop.
"As a parent we feel very honored that our son has achieved such a great honor from outlets like Rivals, Scout, ESPN and other services," Karl Sr. told Cats Illustrated, "I think that it speaks to his dedication to basketball and his future.
"Karl has enjoyed everything that comes with his acclaim so far. He had a great summer where he got to play on a national team with current and future professional players; that just gave him extra motivation to continue to get better.
Towns didn't play on just any national team, he played for the Dominican Republic; meaning that he was coached by Kentucky head man John Calipari. Towns made the squad during a training camp session at the University of Kentucky, and while his team did not qualify for the Olympic games, the power forward enjoyed the experience of playing on a international stage at just 16 years old.
"We had so much fun with the whole international process," said Karl Sr. (who is a native of the Dominican Republic, while his son Karl Jr. was born in America), "We got to see a great side of Coach Calipari, and he can really coach."
While playing on a national team and living the life of a normal teenager are somewhat contradictory; Karl Towns has the game to play at the highest level already.
"He can shoot it from NBA range; but, now that he's developed a low post game he's a total offensive threat," said Towns (who is an accomplished coach himself), "Guys have been working with for years on his ballhandling, in fact Rod Strickland is someone who has really helped him. He's got the whole package inside and outside; he's not just a spot-up shooter anymore."
With the opportunity to play for the Dominican Republic behind him for now, Towns is focused on his studies and improving his game; but the University of Kentucky campus was able to make a lasting impression on the New Jersey sophomore.
Towns and his father plan on coming back to UK sometime in the fall for a visit that focuses more on the school, and less on international qualifying games.
"Kentucky is one of the finest institutions out there, and we loved everything about it when we there over the summer," said Towns, "Our visit was all basketball related, and we're excited to see more. What they bring to the table from a basketball standpoint is exactly what we're looking for. Now we want to find out about the academics and campus life; hopefully we can do that in the fall.
"What we're looking for is a place where Karl can win a National Championship. But, the main thing in Karl's mind is his education; he's determined to be a doctor once his career is over. It not just us as his parents pushing him academically, it's Karl himself; he's so serious about his school work.
"Karl is very gifted in the classroom. He finished his freshman year with a 4.3 GPA, he talks about medical school almost every single day."
So far Towns claims interest from schools like Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Villanova, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Saint John's, Kansas and Rutgers. Over the Labor Day weekend Florida went ahead and extended a scholarship offer Towns way.
Such a highly regarded player with such focus in the classroom; it's hard to call that normal.