Karl Anthony Towns Surprising His Coaches


Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Karl Towns is the reigning men’s Gatorade Player of the Year. He was a 5-star recruit. He started playing international basketball at 16. So it’s widely agreed that is an elite-level basketball player. And yet, after 3 games in the Bahamas, he’s surprised a lot of people with just how good he is and could be. Jerry Tipton writes:

"“After only three exhibition games in mid-August, it’s way too early to make judgments about college basketball players and the upcoming season. That seems especially true of freshmen.Karl-Anthony Towns might be an exception.When asked if Towns was even better than the Kentucky coaches anticipated, John Robic did not hesitate nor equivocate.‘Yes,’ Robic said after Kentucky’s game Tuesday.”"

Mark Stoops was hired, in part, because he was known as one of the best defensive coaches in the college football. Competing in the SEC requires an elite-level defense. And though Kentucky finished near the bottom in most defensive categories last season, there is reason to believe this year will be different. Jennifer Smith writes:

"“As a defensive coordinator at two different stops, Stoops was able to make big leaps in development by his second full year in charge.Take Florida State.Before Stoops arrived there, the Seminoles were 108th nationally in total defense. By his second season they were fourth in the nation.They went from 94th in scoring defense to fourth, 108th in rushing defense to second, allowing just 82.7 yards a game, nearly 50 fewer yards given up a game.The season before Stoops took over at Florida State, the defense was 77th in pass defense and improved to 20th.”"

For Patrick Wren, who has been battling prostate cancer since February, the Wildcats’ trip to the Bahamas was an opportunity to see his beloved team play up close while forgetting the struggle he’s endured for the last 6 months. Kyle Tucker writes:

"“Awesome is just what this family needed. Patrick Wren said he still hasn’t regained his strength from the radiation treatments, which came five days a week for more than two months. When the games here in the Bahamas end, he heads back to the hotel and passes out from exhaustion.Still, this looks like progress to his sons.‘Whenever he got (cancer) and he was going through (treatment), he pretty much just slept all the time,’ Jared said. ‘But it feels like he’s a lot happier now. It’s just one of those things where you wake up and you thank God for everything that’s going on right now.’Earlier this week, Patrick Wren got to meet Mike Pratt, one of his favorite former UK players who now calls Cats games on the radio. Wren started crying. He choked up again Tuesday recalling all he’s experienced on this dream trip.He won’t know whether his radiation was successful for a few more months, meaning his future remains uncertain. But Wren is sure of one thing now: his sons will have a special memory with their dad.”"

Kentucky is expected to start the season ranked #1. Already, several pre-season polls by various writers have them occupying that position, including the one at Bleacher Report. Jason King writes:

"“Even though it came against inferior competition, the Wildcats’ performance in the Bahamas this week justified the hype that will hover over John Calipari’s squad entering the season.…If the new pieces mesh with the old ones, Kentucky will be the favorite to cut down the nets in Indianapolis in April.”"

Three games in the Bahamas, three blowout wins. Yes, Kentucky looks more polished in August than they probably have ever looked this early in the year under John Calipari, but is there anything that can be learned from these 3 games? Thad Novak writes:

"“Obviously, any conclusions drawn from two exhibition games have to be taken with a serious grain of salt. That said, here are the most striking lessons that UK’s early outings offered for Big Blue Nation.”"