Karl Towns is another example of why Coach Cal is the best

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High school basketball has two major stars right now.

Rising senior Jabari Parker, a small forward from Chicago, is fresh off of gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated, where he was called the best high school player since LeBron. Andrew Wiggins, a rising junior playing his high school ball in West Virginia, is a kid that many people believe may actually be better than Parker. Every coach in the country goes to sleep dreaming about getting one of these two kids to wear their school’s colors.

But there is another phenom coming through the high school ranks. He goes by the name Karl Towns, and he’s a 6-foot-11 center that started and averaged a double-double for New Jersey powerhouse St. Joseph’s in Metuchen. He’s also a 16 year old freshman.

How good is Towns?

“He’s the best player in the Class of 2015,” said CBSSports.com recruiting analyst — and pomade expert — Jeff Borzello said.

But does that mean that Towns is good enough to play on the Dominican National Team? I’ve seen Towns play. He’s going to be a very, very good basketball player. He’s not only a rebounder and a shot-blocker, but he’s able to step out and knock down a three. The problem? He’s 16. He’s not physically mature. He doesn’t have a well-developed low-post game. He’s not ready to compete against some of the world’s best players.

So why is he on the team?

Well, in my mind, it’s simple: John Calipari is coaching the Dominican team. Calipari is also recruiting Towns to play his collegiate ball at Kentucky. It would only make sense for him to put Towns on the team. A chance to legally and get to know him? Calipari would be a fool not to include him.

And, along those same lines, Towns would be a fool not to accept the invitation. Al Horford and Charlie Villanueva will be the likely starters for this Dominican team. You don’t think Towns is going to get better attending Calipari’s practices where he will be going up against two NBA all-stars? You don’t think it will benefit him experiencing a high-level of international basketball?

“I want people to know he made it for his ability, not because of who the coach is,” Karl Towns Sr. told Jeff Eisenberg of The Dagger. That may be true. Maybe Calipari is planning for the future. Maybe the Dominican team does not have much front court depth. Maybe I just saw Towns on a day when he was tired or didn’t play well.

But regardless of whether or not Towns is good enough right now to play on this Dominican team isn’t the point.

There was no way he was going to get cut.

This is just another example of why Coach Cal is ahead of the curve on everyone when it comes to recruiting. You don’t think Cal knew about this kid when he made the decision to coach the Dominican team? Just like the game he scheduled at Cowboys Stadium for the 2013-2014 season had nothing to do with his efforts to pull the Harrison twins out of Texas?

There is a reason that Cal is so good at what he does. This is it.

Photo via.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Florida State picks up late commit from McDonald’s All-American

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The losses sustained by Florida State have been numerous and significant. Three players declared early for the NBA Draft. Another two contributors were lost to graduation. All in all, the Seminoles haven’t had the greatest of springs.

Wednesday, though, they got some good news.

McDonald’s All-American wing M.J. Walker committed Leonard Hamilton’s program to give Florida State a late, and important, addition to its 2017 recruiting class, beating the likes of Ohio State, Georgia Tech and UCLA.

Walker, a 6-foot-5 guard, gives the Seminoles yet another five-star prospect after landing Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac in the last two recruiting classes. Walker will help Hamilton and Co. reboot after both Bacon and Isaac, along with Xavier Rathan-Mayes, all left school to pursue professional careers after the Seminoles’ 26-9 season that saw them advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Walker becomes the sixth member of Hamilton’s 2017 recruiting class that was previously headlined by four-star 7-footer Ikechukwu Obiagu. That group will be tasked to retool a team losing not only major NBA-level talent, but also major production. The Seminoles won’t return a single player who averaged double-digit points per-game last year and just one who played at least 20 minutes per night.

Michigan returns Mo Wagner, loses D.J. Wilson

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The best-case scenario did not take place for Michigan this week.

The Wolverines waited for four weeks to hear back from their pair of mobile big men, and the news on Mo Wagner was positive. The 6-foot-10 junior from Germany announced on Wednesday that he will return to school after testing the NBA Draft waters.

The news was not as fortunate with D.J. Wilson, who announced less than ten hours before the deadline that he will be signing with an agent and turning pro. Wilson is projected as a late first round or early second round pick.

Without Wilson in the fold, Michigan lacks some front court depth, which will probably be enough to keep them out of the preseason top 25.

Gonzaga to return Johnathan Williams III

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Losing Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins to the professional ranks probably torpedoed Gonzaga’s chance of making another run to the NCAA tournament national title game, but after Johnathan Williams III announced on Wednesday that he will be returning to school and withdrawing from the NBA Draft, Gonzaga does appear to be a favorite to win the WCC title again.

Williams is now Gonzaga’s leading returning scorer and rebounder, anchoring a front court that also loses Przemek Karnowski to graduation. He was expected to go undrafted.

With Williams back in the fold, the Zags should be right there with Saint Mary’s in the race for the WCC title. Josh Perkins, Silas Melson and Killian Tillie all return as well.

ESPN was the first to report the news.

Injured Gamecocks point guard Blanton gives up basketball

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina guard TeMarcus Blanton is giving up basketball after struggling with a serious hip injury he suffered before his freshman season.

Gamecocks coach Frank Martin says Blanton told him he could not get his body to respond to a level that would allow him to continue playing basketball. Blanton is a 6-foot-5 junior from Locust Grove, Georgia, who hurt his hip during preseason for the 2014-15 season. He needed surgery and could not return to the court until his sophomore year.

Blanton played in 29 games, averaging 1.4 points a game.

He said on social media he is grateful to his coaches, teammates and South Carolina fans, “but my journey of basketball has come to an end.”

Blanton received a medical exemption from the Southeastern Conference to remain part of the Gamecocks’ program moving forward.

North Carolina’s Tony Bradley to remain NBA Draft

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For the first time in a decade and just the third time in 14 seasons as UNC’s head coach, Roy Williams has a one-and-done player.

North Carolina’s Tony Bradley will sign with an agent and remain in the NBA Draft.

Bradley had an impressive freshman season, averaging 7.1 points and 5.1 boards in less than 15 minutes per game as the sixth-man for the national title-winning Tar Heels. He initially declared for the draft without signing with an agent, testing the waters, and the feedback was positive: He’ll likely be a late first round or early second round pick.

As the process dragged on, it became fairly evident that Bradley would keep his name in the draft, and that is a massive blow for a UNC team that is already losing Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks, not to mention Justin Jackson.

As it stands, Roy Williams will likely start the following lineup next season: Joel Berry II, Kenny Williams and Theo Pinson on the perimeter with Luke Maye and either Brandon Huffman or Garrison Brooks, both freshmen, alongside him. Williams is one of the few coaches left in the sport that still relies on playing two bigs and utilizing an overwhelming front court to win games, and that is not going to be an easy thing to do with that group of bigs.

UNC’s perimeter is strong. Berry will likely be a preseason all-american while Pinson and Williams are both above average role players on the wings.

But without that hoss in the paint — Bradley, like Berry, would have popped up on preseason all-american teams — the Tar Heels are going to have a tough time making a run at an ACC title, let alone a third straight trip to the national title game.

North Carolina is currently ranked 18th in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.