The reality of recruiting is that players are sought after primarily for their athletic ability and skill, with intangibles like personality and academic prowess being secondary. We as fans accept this for the sake of wins, but oftentimes, we long for a player that can do it all: dominate on the court, and be an ambassador for our school everywhere else. But multifaceted players like this are few and far between, and when they do come around, it can be an absolute recruiting dogfight to get them to suit up for your team.
But in the case of Karl-Anthony Towns, one of the most articulate and personable Wildcats of all time, the stars were aligned just right for him to come to Kentucky.
To make a not very long story even shorter: KAT was always pretty much a lock to come to UK. As a sophomore in high school, Karl qualified to play for the Dominican Republic national team alongside NBA players like Al Horford and Charlie Villanueva, a team which also just happened to be led by Coach Cal and Orlando Antigua.
KAT and Cal developed such a rapport early on in Karl’s recruitment that it would’ve taken a Herculean effort for any other coach to close the gap. Towns even got to see future Wildcat great Anthony Davis talk some trash with Coach Cal from the floor:
So by the time Karl was ready to commit, which was sooner than expected on account of his reclassification to 2014, he was already indoctrinated into the ways of John Calipari.
For posterity’s sake, Towns also considered North Carolina, NC State, Michigan State, Florida, and Duke, among others. But his interest never seemed to go further than just compiling a list.
With the 2012-2013 season barely in full swing, UK already had the centerpiece for its 2014 recruiting class, which would go on to be bolstered by two other fan favorites and best buds Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker.
Towns statline from his freshman season, consisting of averaging 10.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 2.3 BPG, would be considered productive regardless, but it gains some much needed context when you factor in that Towns barely averaged more than 21 minutes per game. The infamous “platoon” system generally kept individual stats low, but Big KAT’s performances shouldn’t be judged on paper anyway.