In its 29th
year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA
TODAY High School Sports, today announced Karl Towns, Jr.
of St. Joseph High School (Metuchen, N.J.
) as its 2013-14 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Towns was surprised with the news at school by former NBA Champion Alonzo Mourning
, who earned Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year honors in 1987-88.
"I still remember the day when I was honored as the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year and winning the award is one of the most memorable moments in my career," said Mourning, a Gold Medalist, seven-time NBA All-Star, and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. "It's such a rare accomplishment, so I was honored to be able to be a part of today's celebration by surprising Karl with the award."
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes Towns as the nation's best high school boys basketball player. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Towns from nearly 540,000 high school boys basketball players nationwide. Towns is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.
The 7-foot-1, 250-pound senior center led the Falcons to a 30-2 record and the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title. The state's returning Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year, Towns averaged 20.9 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.2 blocks per game. A member of the Dominican Republic National Team and a three-time First Team All-State honoree, he has been selected to play in the Jordan Brand Classic and the McDonald's All-American games.
Towns has maintained a weighted GPA of 3.66 in the classroom. A longtime piano pupil, he has served as a member of student council and has volunteered on behalf of multiple charitable organizations, including Parents of Autistic Children, the Mary Kline Classic benefitting cancer research and the Scholarship Fund for Inner-City Children. Towns has also donated his time to the REED Academy for students with autism spectrum disorders, Team Izod Basketball for youth players and the Falcons summer basketball camp. A student assistant in the school guidance department and a sports therapy intern at East Coast Conditioning in Edison as a senior, he also works extensively with St. Joseph's admissions-outreach and student-orientation initiatives.
"Karl's ability to play on the perimeter, his overall skill set and his understanding of the game, well, an NBA GM would have to consider him as a potential No. 1 draft pick," said Life Center Academy (NJ) head coach Pervis Ellison, a former No. 1 draft pick, Final Four MVP and 11-year NBA veteran. "With his skill set, Karl can post up, shoot the 3-pointer and stretch the court. They talk about five-tool players in baseball? Karl is that in basketball. He's a multi-dimensional offensive force. I've seen him shoot, and he's already a pro shooter. I've played with Ray Allen and I know of what I speak. Towns can shoot it like a pro. Already."
Towns has signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball on scholarship at the University of Kentucky this fall.
"Karl is an exceptional student-athlete who has earned recognition as the nation's best high school boys basketball player while also excelling in the classroom and making a difference in his community," said Gatorade Vice President, Global Sports Marketing and Science Andrea Fairchild. "Karl's statistics on the court speak for themselves, but even more impressive is the impact he has had on his teammates and the example he sets for younger student-athletes. Karl represents everything we look to celebrate in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient."
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA TODAY High School Sports, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.