CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A day after UK assistant Orlando Antigua was officially announced as the new Dominican national team coach, Karl Towns Jr. was talking about how he couldn’t wait to join the team.
Towns, who missed the first three sessions of the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp so he could play with his high school team, jumped in a car and drove seven hours to take part in the Friday night session.
He played alongside UK target Josh Perkins and helped lead his team to a victory. Afterward, he talked about preparing himself to compete with the Dominicans for the third consecutive summer.
“I just wanted to train so hard to really make my mark on the Dominican team this summer,” Towns said. “Make sure I’m fully prepared for the job they have me do. Especially with a new coach in Coach Orlando.”
There’s no set date or location for the beginning of the Dominican team’s training camp, but it’s expected to start sometime in late July or early August.
Towns has limited his spring/summer schedule to concentrate fully on the national team — he was born in New Jersey but his mother is a native Dominican.
Much of his time since the end of the high school season has been spent in the weight room. His father, Karl Towns Sr., said Towns weighed about 235 pounds last Christmas. He’s up to about 250 pounds now.
That extra bulk will come in handy when going up against his fellow national team members like NBA star Al Horford.
“He needed to get bigger and stronger,” Towns Sr. said. “Because when he goes out there, those are men.”
Towns — a 7-footer — is known for his outside game as much as his post play. His father said not to worry about the UK commitment’s abilities away from the basket. That’s still a big part of his game.
But Towns has made the Dominican team his short-term priority, and he wants to fight for a starting position after spending most of the time on the bench last summer.
“He’s going to elevate up to get minutes,” Towns Sr. said. “He’s bigger, stronger, experienced. He went through it. They feel that he can really make a contribution this year. They’re planning on him being out there.”
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