Monday, April 14, 2008

Karl Towns, Sr.- Former Star and Father of a Star

Karl Towns, Sr. is an integral part of Team New Jersey ABC. Towns not only helps coach within the program, but is one of the club's founders. As well, his son, Karl Towns, Jr. is a member of Team NJ-ABC, and he is one of America's top rising middle schoolers. Senior is a former college basketball player with a great knowledge of the game. I spoke with Mr. Towns at the Playaz Spring Fling about his basketball career and that of his son.

NB: What do you think is the biggest way you can help your son [Karl Towns, Jr.] on the road for him to attend college and then . . . possibly after that?
KT: Well, my biggest thing is I got to keep him focused on the sport. He’s in love with baseball, but he’s just as good in baseball, maybe better, but I got to keep him focused on the fact that . . . everyday you got to learn something more. You never are at a point where you just can be content, so that’s what I keep him focused on, that’s why I have coach Lamont Halsey and [coach] Matt Pauls behind him, because that’s why I let them coach because everyday he needs to stay focused on the fact that there’s other people out there about to get him. You got to learn everyday, when you [are] at . . . the top of . . . the map, people want to take you down, so everyday, we got to teach him more and more.

NB: What similarities and differences do you see between your game when you were at his age and in high school, and the way he plays right now?
KT: He’s way better than I was when I was his age. I wasn’t as good a shooter, because he can hit the three. His handle’s better, I was just a great rebounder at Monmouth [University], I led the nation, I was third in the nation . . . my senior year at Monmouth. He just has more aspects [of his game], . . . playing in all these tournaments, practicing with Dexter Strickland and Kasim Drummond, and DeSean Butler, seeing all these great people and having [the opportunity] to play against them just helped elevate his game. I didn’t have all those luxuries, playing against great players, I had to play with kids in the park, but he’s only played with the best players, so he’s only had the best teaching, so that’s why his game is so much above [what] mine [was at his age].

NB: Do you ever notice him struggling . . . to keep up with all the attention that’s being put on him at such a young age?
KT: I think that some of the attention bothers him a lot. I think that the pressure for him [may be something he struggles with], he just turned 12, and I think that he sees that he has to always play at a high level. I think sometimes it affects him, but like we told him, ‘you’re kid, be a kid, don’t let it get to you, you have many more years of basketball to go, just . . . have fun.’ . . . I think that they [have] grounded him, . . . when you’re the number one player in the country [at the] 12 and under [level], it’s hard, and I think he takes that to heart sometimes, that he has to always win, and we’re not going to always win, we’re not, it’s just not going to happen.

NB: Are you worried about him turning out like some of the other young . . . stars?
KT: I always worry about the fact that he may, but . . . he’s a good student, straight A student, and he’s in Catholic school, and everybody around him keeps him grounded, doing the little things, we don’t let him get caught up in nothing, and I keep trying to tell you, coach Lamont and coach Matt make sure that he enjoys the good things in life. . . . They know his talent, I know his talent, we all know his talent, but we want him to have fun.

NB: Where do you see him attending high school?
KT: [Laughs] Everybody’s giving [interest], he has St. [Patrick’s], he loves [head coach] Kevin [Boyle]. . . . [He] loves St. Anthony’s, Pennington is a nice school, I really haven’t thought that far [ahead], Lawrenceville wants him. It’s a lot of prep schools that are out there [that are showing interest], [and] Matt [Pauls] has pushed him everywhere, so it’s like he can go a lot of places, but we don’t never get caught up in that because right now he’s only in sixth grade, I just want him to worry about passing and going to seventh grade.

NB: Going back to your high school days, . . . take us down the road of how you ended up at Monmouth.
KT: I had a great senior year at Piscataway, [which is] where I’m from. I went to Mercer County [Community College], we had a good team, and the following year I ended up at Monmouth from a scholarship from Ron Kornegay, and I had a good career, graduated, got my degree, I wasn’t the great player, but I was a great rebounder, so I got offers to go overseas and unfortunately, I got hurt in the park, and that was that.
NB: Where you planning on accepting any of those offers to play overseas, or were just going to try to go another direction?
KT: I was going to and try [playing] overseas [for] maybe two years, just to get some experience with the pros so I could always have that, but I don’t regret it, and I’m not living through my son, I’m just happy that my son is getting more opportunities than I was, and that’s more important to me, seeing that he prospers as a player.

NB: What was the best thing for you about your time playing basketball?
KT: College life. I loved the fact that the competition and the levels [were so high], [and] that I got a chance to be [on] one of the first teams to play Division I at Monmouth, it was our first year, I got a chance to play against Ed Pinckney, Dominique Wilkins, you name it. I played against . . . Rutgers here [at the RAC] against [John] Battle, I played against all the top players in the country. We didn’t win [any] games, but it was a good experience.

NB: Being at such a high level and playing in DI and getting out to all those people, what did it mean to you on a more personal level?
KT: Well, it just good to see people that eventually ended up on TV. . . . Patrick Ewing I played against, Michael Graham, it was just a good experience for me, it was just [an] all around [good experience]. . . . To see that I was able to play against people who I [can] talk to today, talk to them, and they remember when the played against me, and that’s a good thing. Just to see people, I can say . . . I played against so and so, when [I] see them, they say ‘hi,’ Darryl Dawkins, who practiced with me, and Bernard King, so many players that played at Monmouth when I was there, because the Knicks practiced at Monmouth University when I was down there.

NB: Do you keep in touch with a lot of those guys still today?
KT: I keep in touch all the time with Darryl Dawkins [also known as] “Chocolate Thunder.” I see people, but I don’t keep in touch with them because [although] it was a good time, I’m small-time, they’re big-time, so it’s a lot different for me.

NB: If you had to pick the best moment . . . from your basketball career, what would it be?
KT: [It would be] getting a scholarship to college, and not having to have my parents have to pay for me to go, and being the first person in my family to go to school for four years for free.

Towns, Sr. had a highly successful basketball career, and he is hoping that his son has even more opportunities than he did. This may certainly be the case if Mr. Towns keeps Junior focused on the game, and keeps him working hard. Senior is a quality coach and was a wonderful basketball player. It's no wonder his son might just be the same way.

Note- photo is from

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