The influx of former Kentucky Wildcats continued this week with Karl-Anthony Towns back in Lexington.
Towns, who just finished up his first NBA season with the Timberwolves, is serving as an instructor in his UK Rookie of the Year Camp at the Joe Craft Center. As is usually the case with former Cats being back on campus, Towns spoke with the media and told us about life in the NBA, how UK helped prepare him for it, and what he likes of the newest Cats.
Even though Towns played on a loaded UK team that kept him from putting up the kind of ridiculous numbers he was capable of, he doesn't regret anything about how much he played or how he was used.
"No, no. I never cared about the minutes," Towns said. "Coach Calipari, I don't think I need to tell you guys how good he is at putting players in the NBA. If you want to walk into the Joe Craft gym I think you'll see that. That's a fact that no one has to check. That's just a given, so there's no variables when it comes to his ability to make our dreams and aspirations come true.
"All I worried about when I was in college was making sure we won as many games as possible and beat as many teams as possible - by a lot of points. We were blessed to have such a great team, have such a great coaching staff and have a great university behind us.
"It was one of those things, we were so unselfish and we were something that Coach Calipari says all the time: Servant leaders. We gave ourselves up to each other for the greater good of the whole. I think the results spoke for themselves."
Though it was only one season, UK and Lexington will always be a second home to Towns and his family.
"This is a place that's very special to me in my heart," Towns said of UK. "It's always been special to my family as well because of you guys. You guys have made this a very great experience, a great life that I've lived here. It may have been one year, six months, but I've been able to fulfill a lot of achievements, a lot of joy and a lot of excitement into six months that people get in their whole lifetime, being here at the University of Kentucky."
While Towns has become a star in the NBA, former teammate and new NBA Cat Tyler Ulis is trying to break into the league. His performance in the summer league would seem to bode well for his NBA chances, though it was no surprise to Towns.
"I didn't expect anything else," Towns said of Ulis. "A lot of people always tried to knock him down for his size. They knocked him down for his size when he was going to high school, knocked him down when he was coming out of high school to college. He's always proved people wrong. His height has never been something as a disadvantage, but an advantage for him.
"That's the difference with Tyler. His heart and his skill is just too much to pass on. I'm surprised he dropped so much in the draft, but Phoenix has a good record of knowing what Kentucky guards can do. They drafted the right player and they got a player who's probably going to be playing in this league a long, long time. He has the skill level, the leadership qualities and has the drive to be something very, very special."
As for the newest edition of Kentucky Basketball, Towns hasn't taken on any of them in pickup games, but he does like what the young Cats have shown him thus far.
"No, I have not. I have not actually. I don't think I need to jump in a pickup game to know how talented they are. It's on paper. I don't need to see it. They're going to be a very good team, possibly one that rivals ours."
And if you didn't think Towns was just the best ever, he even went out of his way to give us media folk some love.
"I can't thank you guys from the media, to the fans, especially you guys," Towns said. "Even though as media, media get a bad rep and you guys have been absolutely nothing but classy, professional and very fun to be around. It's all thanks to you guys that you make this a program to fans, giving them the inside information they all want, but just giving us as players the confidence to talk to you guys, and willingness to open up to you guys is what makes it so fun. It makes it so fun especially to be sitting in this chair talking to you guys."
Yep. Towns is just the best.