Kentucky has become one of the best breeding grounds for talent for the NBA down the years and the stars the college has spawned speak for themselves.
Luminaries like Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Brandon Knight, Nerlens Noel, Rajon Rondo and John Wall are all Kentucky products with 12 All-Star appearances between them and only Rondo is above the age of 26.
However, there is another Kentucky-bred star in the league these days in the 2015 number one draft pick Karl-Anthony Towns.
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The Minnesota Timberwolves rookie has had an impressive debut season with many in the media speculating he could be in line to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award. Towns is averaging a double-double in his inaugural campaign and leads all current rookies in points, rebounds, player efficiency rating, win shares as well as sitting second in blocks.
The litany of stars that Kentucky has unleashed on the NBA shows their pedigree; Ninety players who attended illustrious college have also gone on to play in the league and of those 90, just under 50 have gone on to grab at least 500 minutes during their taster seasons.
So, where does KAT rank among the very best from, arguably, the greatest production line?
Extremely high, is the answer.
None of the aforementioned stars have posted a higher player efficiency rating than the 20-year-old and when compared against fellow elite big men like Davis and Cousins, Towns has superior stats in points and rebounds by some distance compared to their rookie outings.
More importantly, he boasts a better PER than those two, or any other Kentucky alumni in their rookie endeavours.
Speaking of Davis and Towns, the former's current head coach Alvin Gervin spoke glowing about the former Wildcat prodigies and believes they are the two young stars that any franchise would love to build around right now.
“They’re on a really, really short list,” Gentry said. “If you’re looking around our league now – obviously with LeBron’s age, if you’re starting a franchise (now), that may be a little bit different (than several years ago) – but those two guys are two of the best players in the league right now, as a 22-year-old and a 20-year-old.”
At 7'0", Towns has undoubtedly had an impressive first year in the NBA and even won the 2016 Skills Challenge during All-Star weekend. ESPN tweeted out an interesting stat on Saturday showing just the kind of company Towns is going to rub shoulders with if he continues on his current trajectory.
Back in January, Towns received a pretty heavy endorsement from one of the league's greatest scorers and 2014 MVP, Kevin Durant.
“He’s [Towns] going to be a Hall of Famer in this league,” Durant said, per Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press.
If anyone is a good judge of quality, Oklahoma City Thunder's Durant is definitely a good gauge.
Towns was born in New Jersey but has represented the Dominican Republic at international level because of his mother's nationality and, therefore, is not in line to replace the injured Anthony Davis in the American Olympics team this summer.