11:15 PM ET
Jeff BorzelloESPN Staff Writer
- Basketball recruiting insider.
- Joined ESPN in 2014.
- Graduate of University of Delaware.
Towns, a Columbus, Ohio, native, chose the Buckeyes over Duke, while his final list also included Kansas, Virginia, Syracuse, Michigan and Maryland. He will be eligible immediately next season and should have two seasons of eligibility.
“I’m coming home,” Towns said. “From a basketball standpoint, it makes sense for me. Obviously, there’s no place like home. Coach [Chris] Holtmann and I have developed a really good relationship; I trust him wholly. It’s great, it’s been my childhood dream. I have a painting of me in an Ohio State jersey on my childhood bedroom wall, even still. I got that when I was 2 years old.”
Towns has missed the past two seasons with knee injuries, but he was the Ivy League Player of the Year in 2017-18 after averaging 16.0 points and 5.7 rebounds. He shot 44.1% from 3-point range that season.
When Towns announced earlier this season that he was graduating and transferring after the season, Ohio State was the early favorite. Earlier this week, though, Duke made waves by beginning to show interest in Towns.
“Every basketball player’s dream is to hear Coach K tell you that he wants you,” Towns said of Mike Krzyzewski. “It’s such a highly prestigious program to play for. That alone is so incredibly hard to turn down. Coach K is one of those people that’s almost bigger than life. That was a dream opportunity, as well.”
Towns discussed his decision with his family, close friends and former Ohio State star Jared Sullinger.
“He’s like a big brother to me,” Towns said. “Obviously, he went to Ohio State. But he approached it like, he was very normative about it. Black and white, put it all on paper, pros and cons.”
Because Towns hasn’t played in two seasons and underwent another surgery earlier this season, there is some concern that Towns won’t return to the player he was at Harvard — and might not be able to return to the court without getting hurt.
“There are concerns, which are normal,” he said. “There are concerns about me getting back to full health by the time the games start and all these different things. But with my work ethic, the state of my knee now, and the confidence in my medical team that’s handled my knee up to this point, [I’ll be ready].”
Ohio State lost point guard D.J. Carton to transfer the other day, while Andre Wesson is the team’s lone senior. Starting center Kaleb Wesson could enter the NBA draft, too, but everyone else from this season’s team should return. Holtmann also has former California transfer Justice Sueing sitting out.
Towns’ commitment should move Ohio State in the top 15 nationally for next season — but he has his sights set a little higher.
“I’m expecting nothing less than a Final Four run and a national championship,” Towns said. “I’m a winner first and a basketball player second. We’re going for it all.”