Al Horford’s Tutelage Paid Off for Wolves' Towns

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MINNEAPOLIS – Al Horford will never forget the first time he met Karl-Anthony Towns.

The interaction took place roughly six years ago at the University of Kentucky where Horford and the Dominican Republic National team, coached by John Calipari at the time, were holding a practice.

Towns, whose mother is Dominican-born, was on a recruiting visit, so he took the opportunity to pop in and meet the national team members.

“What impressed me right away was, I think he wore like a size 17 or 18 shoe at (age) 14,” Horford recalled Monday morning ahead of Celtics shootaround before matching up against Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night.

“He was just very impressive right off the bat. And then I saw him shoot a little bit and he was already shooting 3s and very comfortable at that age, so that was something that really struck me.”

One year later, the two were teammates.

Towns, a 6-foot-10 high school freshman, made the Dominican National team in 2011 and Horford immediately took the 15-year-old under his wing.

Horford’s tutelage is something Towns will forever be grateful for, as he explained in a 2016 interview with mentoring.org.

“When you have someone who is with you every step of the way and is trying to help you and guide you to the right direction, it just makes life much easier but also makes life more fun,” Towns said in the interview.

“The biggest thing Al always told me on the court was to just, ‘Never take a day off and always go to your full potential.’ Him seeing himself a little bit in me really gave him the connection that we needed to really build a great bond.”

Towns says his bond with Horford played a major impact in helping him along his road to the NBA.

The young center starred at the University of Kentucky for one season before being drafted first overall in 2015 by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

During his rookie campaign last season, Towns averaged 18.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game and claimed Rookie of the Year honors. The 21-year-old is continuing to conquer his competition so far this season, as he has posted 21.8 PPG and 8.4 RPG through 12 games.

Many have been taken aback by the impact that Towns has had so early in his career, but Horford was not the least bit surprised with his success as he looked back Monday morning.

“Karl’s a very smart man,” said Horford. “From a very young age he was very mature, (had) really good work ethic and we all knew it was going to be a matter of time of when he was going to be at this level and dominating the way he’s been.”

Horford knows exactly what challenges he and the Celtics will face tonight, noting Towns’ “ability to really score from anywhere on the floor. He’s getting shots at a high volume and he’s being very efficient with that.”

While Horford is elated that his former protégé is experiencing great success, he hopes to resist Towns’ wrath tonight at 8 p.m. when the pair face off at Target Center.