When Karl-Anthony Towns heads out in the Twin Cities, he drives a vehicle with big, red rims on it. He also likes to wear a bright orange winter coat.
The No. 1 overall pick isn’t much for keeping a low profile and, truth be told, there’s not much of a way for a 7-footer to do that even if he wanted to.
When the Minnesota Timberwolves grabbed him at the top of the draft in June, Towns realized a lifelong dream. It also meant uprooting from his Piscataway, N.J., home and setting down new roots in Minneapolis, a community he was largely unfamiliar with before he arrived ahead of the draft for a workout session.
“I’m getting accustomed to the city more and more every day,” Towns said. “I feel like I’m part of the people’s conversations. I understand what they’re talking about, what they’re thinking about. I think I’m more and more a part of this community every day. I love it here. I love absolutely everything here.”
Towns has thrown himself into acclimating himself to the area with same enthusiasm he has to making the transition to the NBA, sampling local restaurants and hitting the Mall of America with friends just as most 20-year-olds do.
“I just be myself. That’s how I’ve always been,” Towns said. “Continue to do everything that I’ve always wanted to do. Just make sure that I can stay connected.”
The former University of Kentucky star is averaging 15.7 points and 9.4 rebounds as the Timberwolves near the halfway point of the season, solidifying himself as a favorite for the league’s rookie of the year award. And he’s already leaving quite an impression on those in the league.
“He’s a future Hall of Famer,” Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant said.
Towns has also been active in the community, organizing a shoe drive to provide footwear for those in need, participating in a pair of shopping sprees for children before Christmas and this month he launched a “My Brother’s Keeper” campaign with the NBA and the White House to promote the importance of mentoring.
“Just finding ways to give back,” Towns said. “There’s only so much you can do and I’m trying to make sure I have every channel open to help people.”
Towns has been active in charitable endeavors for years because it was encouraged by his parents at home. There was never a lot of money to go around while growing up in Piscataway, but Towns devoted his time to working with autistic children and several other endeavors.
“I smile more about that more than anything he does on the court,” said Towns’ father, Karl. “He’s using what God gave him to help them. That’s what it’s about, always give back.”
Towns lauded the mentorship he received from Atlanta Hawks star Al Horford when the two were teammates on the Dominican national team. Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart is also featured in the campaign.
“It gives a good example and it gives a path that somebody has already taken,” Towns said. “They understand someone’s already been through it and they can find out what they did wrong, what they did right and they know what they did.”
At 12-28, the young Timberwolves have won more games than just three other teams in the league. The losing hasn’t been easy for Towns to get used to. But getting used to a new city and a new home has gone much better.
“They treat him just like he’s been living here all his life,” Karl Towns said of his son. “Sometimes it’s hard to believe. But I respect the fact that they let him be the kid he is, the player he is and just let him feel warm. He loves it here. And I love it here. I think this was the best thing for him.”