Dominican's Towns to face Team USA
St. Joseph (Metuchen) freshman center Karl Towns spent last winter trying to shut down talented high school opponents such as Teaneck's Chris Jones, Seton Hall Prep's Dallas Anglin and Plainfield's Sekou Harris.
And while the 6-foot-11 sensation thrived against such stealthy competition in his rookie campaign, his latest challenge will present a bevy of even more daunting names:
LeBron James. Kevin Durant. Kobe Bryant. Blake Griffin. Carmelo Anthony. Russell Westbrook.
Towns, currently playing on the Dominican Republic national team, will face Team USA in an exhibition game on Thursday at the Thomas & Mack Center at 9 p.m. in Las Vegas. The much-anticipated contest will air on ESPN.
"We're just going to try and play hard. It's Team USA, so we're going to give 'em all we got," Towns said in an exclusive phone interview with MSG Varsity. "The skill set is the highest level. We're going to play together, use our bodies and our talents to the best of our abilities. It'll be big for me to learn."
Showing off his sheer excitement, Towns tweeted on Monday: "Just landed back in the states. In Heat territory, I'll meet lebron on the court Thursday."
The Piscataway native was selected to Kentucky coach John Calipari's Dominican team in late May and traveled the world this summer with the squad, which finished one position shy of making the cut for the 2012 Olympic games.
Alongside NBA teammates Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks and Francisco Garcia of the Sacramento Kings, Towns helped the Dominican Republic to a fourth-place finish in the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Towns, whose mother, Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, is Dominican, trained with the Dominican senior national team last year and was invited back. Now, he says he expects to play "a quarter to a quarter and a half" on this big stage.
During whatever playing time he does accumulate in tonight's game, Towns said he's prepared to guard Griffin, Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler and, in some instances, LeBron.
Trying to stop the world's best? Towns isn't afraid of that.
"My first thought will be, 'don't let him dunk on you'," Towns laughed. "I'd rather give up a three-pointer first. He's very strong in the post, so I'm going to have to change my defensive mindset and try to get him to shoot threes."
Tabbed as the most talented ninth-grader in the country by multiple recruiting media outlets, Towns finished the year at St. Joseph averaging 11.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.8 blocks, and 2.0 3-pointers per contest.
He notched 15 double-doubles in 31 games, officially establishing himself as the next big thing in New Jersey.
Contact Brian Fitzsimmons at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @FitzWriter