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|At 17, Karl Towns is the youngest player competing in 2013 FIBA Americas Championship.|
CARACAS, Venezuela -- Karl Towns is just 17 years old and can say that he's defended the colors of the Dominican Republic's national team in three significant events. His wide-open eyes grasp everything, his ears open to the teachings offered by his much more experienced teammates.
Towns, who is a sure bet to play in the NBA in the near future, is still developing physically.
He's 7-foot-1 and although well built, is still adding body mass. He's dynamic, has a good attitude and coherence that's necessary to grow professionally, step by step, game by game.
But above all else, Towns has the desire to be one of the best in the league.
"As a competitor I want to be the best in all aspects. There's not one thing that I only want to improve in my game. I want to be the best shooter, the best dribbler, the best rebounder. I want to be the best in everything," Towns said in an interview with ESPNDeportes.com.
Because of that, he doesn't have any rush to leap -- although the door is left open as he embarks on a key season in his career.
Towns is conscious that he needs to be outstanding in the NCAA the way he was in high school, where he was steps beyond players his age, averaging 21.3 points and 14.3 rebounds per game for the Saint Joseph Falcons during the 2012-13 season.
With up to 10 offers from 10 programs including Michigan, the runner-up in the 2013 NCAA championship, Towns chose Kentucky, returning to play under the tutelage of John Calipari, with whom Towns won a bronze medal in the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship held in Mar De Plata, Argentina.
"He had to make a great effort to convince me to go to Kentucky because he didn't recruit me, it was my own personal choosing. I thought it was the best option for me and my family," Towns said.
"I've learned an awful lot from [Calipari], and he's helped me improve my game a lot."
Few incoming college freshmen could say they already have a bronze medal from having played in a FIBA Americas Championship and that they were knocking at the doors for a berth to the 2012 London Olympic Games. Both were encouraging experiences, but like many of the greats, Towns learns more from the downfalls than successes.
"After having played in the FIBA Americas and an Olympic qualifier, I learned that nothing is guaranteed. Every day is a war and we have to go out there to battle. Losing those big games last year made my experience grow a lot. There aren't a lot of people that have the opportunity to live through all that," Towns said.
"It was different because we had a lot of young guys in those games leading up to the Olympics, and I felt like a veteran due to the previous experience I had acquired."
You have to crawl before you can walk, and although Towns' precociousness says otherwise, he's willing to keep learning from veterans on the national team as he ascends.
"I'm learning a lot from everyone but especially from Jack (Martinez). Sometimes he makes these crazy moves and I want to know how to introduce them to my game. I'm taking notes from everyone," Towns said.
"I feel good with the Dominican team. The experience is going very well. I learned a lot last year and I'm putting it to use this year. I want to help the team in everything and be ready to compete."
In the meantime, Towns dreams of reaching the heights of his idol, Kevin Durant, while he gets ready to major in kinesiology at Kentucky, a place that will confirm whether Towns is capable of fulfilling the college expectations before he takes the next step to the pro game.