Karl Towns

Top recruit Karl Towns commits to Kentucky, reclassifies to 2014


New Jersey native Karl Towns, one of the brightest young talents in the country, has committed to Kentucky and reclassified to the Class of 2014, he announced Tuesday.

Towns’ commitment to Kentucky comes as little surprise, as he had developed a strong relationship with coach John Calipari and even played for Calipari this past summer on the Dominican Republic’s National Olympic Team in London.

“Kentucky is such a great school,” Towns told MSG Varsity after his decision. “I felt like Kentucky was just the right school at the end of the day.”

At 6-11, 235 pounds, Towns can extend out to the perimeter on the offensive end and pull defenses away from the basket. He also considered Duke and Florida heavily, along with Michigan State, North Carolina, Seton Hall, and Rutgers.

He attends St. Joseph High School (N.J.), the same school that Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum attended for much of his prep career. Because of their size and position similarities, as well as ties to the state of New Jersey, the two have often been mentioned together.

Towns becomes the first commit for Calipari in the Class of 2014, after what is expected to be a monstrous 2013 class for Kentucky.

In 2013, Calipari has already secured signatures from three Top-10 players (Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young), plus Top-30 prospect Marcus Lee and forward Derek Willis.

With the reclassification of Andrew Wiggins, perhaps the best prospect in the country and a Kentucky target, and the possibility of nabbing Julius Randle, another Top-5 player, the Wildcats’ 2013 recruiting class could end up being historically talented.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)