There was a lot of build up for Karl-Anthony Towns’ NBA debut. Everyone knew he was going to be hot. And it turns out—everyone was right. The number one overall draft pick in the 2015 NBA Draft for the Minnesota Timberwolves recently became the fifth unanimous Rookie of the Year—the first time since Damian Lillard in 2012-2013, and Blake Griffin in 2010-2011.
You’d think transitioning from college to pro might prove intimidating—not so for the 6’11” 250-pound, 20-year old center. “I was blessed I had a great mentor and I’m with a great organization that put me in a great spot to succeed, and great teammates. My transition was a lot smoother and a lot more fun,” he says.
But what about keeping up with the momentum and staying on-point? The star rookie stays grounded by remembering where it all came from, “I understand what got me to this point in life—hard work and determination, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears,” he says. “I want to continue to work on my craft as hard as I did when I was a young kid.”
And Towns isn’t just solely focused on his sport of basketball, he also appreciates the importance of staying strong and lean. “What you put in your body is what you become,” he says. Even the slightest amount of extra weight, or muscular imbalance can leave an opening for the competition. “ I understand how my body works, how my blood works differently than other people—it’s allowed me to be a step ahead of my competition.”
Towns, who recently attended this year’s Gatorade Athlete of the Year Awards, is just as excited as the day he won the award a year ago. “It’s awesome. To see these kids light up when they’re given the award, or to even see the kids who didn’t win. This is a culmination of a lot of hard work that they’re getting honored for.”
More from Gatorade’s Athlete of the Year Awards: