Interview: The Top High School Basketball Players Talk Sneakers, Hoops, and MJ at the Jordan Brand Classic Photo by Bryan Horowitz

Karl Towns

A Top 5 player in the Class of 2014, Towns was in the stands getting a first-hand look at an event he’ll almost certainly highlight next year. A 7-foot center with deadeye three-point range – and a 4.3 GPA – Towns has done something Jay Williams and Andrew Bynum couldn’t do, leading St. Joseph’s Metuchen to its first two New Jersey state titles in school history. Towns gained valuable experience playing for John Calipari with the Dominican National Team and has verbally committed to play for the University of Kentucky.

What would it mean for you personally to play in the Jordan Classic next year?

Oh, this is an excellent event. It’s crazy to see all the celebrities that have come out. It just shows how big and popular this event is. Maybe it used to be overshadowed by the McDonald’s Game, but it’s showing right now how significant it is. And I can’t wait to be in it next year, to play in this game and in this venue, and hopefully to play in front of the great one, Michael Jordan.

In terms of Jordan himself, what has he meant to you as an up-and-coming ballplayer?

You know, not even just to me, but just to the game of basketball. He’s revolutionized what our common knowledge is of a basketball player. He’s just done so much with his career for me, personally. He’s just given me so much motivation to be different. You just want to be that different guy, who stands out in the crowd, who’s mocked for being different but comes out as one of the greatest. A lot of times, people forget that being different is being great.

One of my favorite Jordan quotes comes from one of his ads: “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, and that’s why I succeed.” What does that mean to you to know that someone like that who achieved so much has had to overcome adversity?

What it means is you can’t do anything without failing sometimes. Nobody in this world is perfect. I’ve never met anybody who’s completely perfect all the time. So what he was trying to say, even though he’s one of the greatest – matter of fact, he is the greatest player to ever play this game – is that nobody’s perfect. He’s going to fail, too. And that’s what you have to realize; sometimes you have bad games, games you didn’t want to have – but Michael Jordan wasn’t perfect either. So you just have to go into the gym and work that much harder and fix that area that wasn’t working for you.

Have you played in the Air Jordan XX8 yet?

No, I haven’t.

You looking forward to it?

Hopefully! (laughs) If they make Size 20 in the XX8, I’ll take it!

What’s your favorite Air Jordan?

I like the Olympic 7’s, but I’ve actually never worn a pair of Air Jordans in my entire life. Growing up, I never had the money to buy them. I haven’t even tried on a pair of Jordans at Foot Locker! So hopefully I can put my feet in some Jordans sooner or later.

I’m sure you know a lot of these guys. Are you planning to talk to them to see what this experience was like for them?

You know, I haven’t talked to anyone yet. I talk mostly with Dakari Johnson, we’re really good friends and go way back, and we always look out for each other and want each other to do well in life. Hopefully while he’s at Kentucky next year, he’ll be seeing me playing right here in the Jordan game.

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