The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns with the first pick in the 2015 NBA Draft on Thursday night in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Wolves picked first in the NBA Draft for the first time in franchise history, and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders surprised few by picking Towns, a 19-year-old center who will contribute immediately on defense and shows a huge, versatile upside on offense.
The decision was met with approval by the 8,000 fans who gathered at Target Center for a draft party.
"It feels like it's our time again," said Timberwolves president of business operations Chris Wright after watching the throng go crazy when Towns was selected.
When Saunders came out to talk to Towns by telephone after the pick, he asked Towns if he had anything to tell the fans.
Towns replied quickly, "We're going to the playoffs!"
Towns and Duke's Tyus Jones, another first-round pick, join a promising young roster that includes Andrew Wiggins, Ricky Rubio, slam dunk champion Zach LaVine and franchise icon Kevin Garnett.
"It reminds me a lot of Kentucky. We have an abundance of talent," Towns said. "As soon as we come together and get on the same page I think we can be a force to be reckoned with."
Saunders called Towns' workouts for the team the most impressive he's seen since Garnett's back in 1995.
"When he came in here, it was a wrap," Saunders said. "There was no questions on what we were going to do."
If Minnesota keeps Towns, Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, it would be the first team with three straight No. 1 picks on the same roster, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Towns is the fourth John Calipari-coached player to go first in the draft, following Memphis' Derrick Rose and UK's John Wall and Anthony Davis. All were freshmen.
"This is what you live for," Towns said to ESPN immediately after leaving the draft stage.
"I'm going to go in and be as versatile as I can be, contribute that way," Towns said on the broadcast. "The one thing I want Timberwolves fans to know is I'm going in with a winning attitude."
Towns started all 39 of UK's games last season and averaged 10.3 points. He averaged a team-high 6.7 rebounds and led the Wildcats with 88 blocks.
"I'm going to go in right away and be as versatile as I can be," he told Timberwolves fans tuned into the TV broadcast.
Towns said that making the playoffs, which the Timberwolves haven't done in 11 years, would be a priority for him.
"I know the one thing I have to do is live up to expectations ... Throughout my life, there's always been expectations," he said.
Playing on a very deep Kentucky team, Towns averaged just 21.1 minutes, 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.
But those numbers are deceiving when applying more advanced statistical analysis. For example: According to College Basketball Reference's defensive rating estimate, which rates how many points a player allowed per 100 possessions he individually faced while on the court, Towns allowed fewer points than any other college player.
Here's the 1st pick notecard Adam Silver read from at the podium tonight pic.twitter.com/DRu6MVzpWZ— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 25, 2015