Karl-Anthony Towns’ life has been a whirlwind this summer. Since being selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves as the No. 1 pick, he has participated in the NBA Summer League, made appearances on TV, and hosted a basketball clinic for kids.

We sat down with Karl at the DICK’S Sporting Goods sponsored Sports Matter Panel at NASDAQ Marketsite on Tuesday, where the impact of sports on kids and the youth sports funding crisis—causes dear to his heart—were discussed.

SLAM: In the panel discussion you stated that sports were your way out and a vehicle to get you to college. Can you describe the impact of youth sports on your life?

Karl-Anthony Towns: It’s been a big impact on me. It’s been the reason I have been able to do what I have been able to do in life because it gave me the foundation of learning how to work hard, how to stay dedicated to something, learn how to be passionate, have teamwork, be able to work with a team, and to be able to have initiative. For me, sports is what has led me to the way I am today.

SLAM: Over the weekend you hosted a basketball clinic in New Jersey. Why are youth sports so important to you?

KAT: For me, youth sports are very important. I am taking a lot of time to do camps that help kids get better, spending some time at ECC (East Coast Conditioning SportsPlex in Edison, NJ) to give lessons and make sure that I give back as much as possible, coaching my high school team to give them a chance to get the knowledge that I have now to give it to them, so they can be better next season, and just trying to give back as much as possible.

SLAM: What did you learn from your time at Kentucky that will help you in the future?

KAT: I think the biggest thing that I learned from Kentucky that will always stay with me is to stay in the present. The season goes by so fast, you gotta enjoy the moment. Enjoy the time that you have, and enjoy everything that you go through. This college season felt like a blur, but I was able to enjoy it so much because every second I was playing, every second I was moving, every second I was having a blast.

SLAM: What was the moment like of hearing your name called in the NBA Draft, and what was your parent’s reaction?

KAT: They were just very excited, very ecstatic, just really happy to have a chance to say their son is an NBA player.

SLAM: Kevin Garnett has worked out with you and given you some pointers in the Summer League. What do you think you can learn from the veteran?

KAT: Mostly how to use my body, and to have longevity in my career, make it longer. Be able to not be so much of a bruiser on the court, and learn how to be more finesse. Learning how to just use my body in a more tactical way, instead of just being all bruiser.

Rapid Fire Questions

SLAM: Thoughts on AAU basketball?

KAT: AAU basketball, I mean for me, I played it growing up. It’s a very good platform for kids to start getting good experience.

SLAM: Nicki Minaj or Taylor Swift?

KAT: Ahhhhh. Nicki Minaj, probably.

SLAM: Best moment at Kentucky?

KAT: Notre Dame game.

SLAM: You think you will take up ice fishing in Minnesota?

KAT: Uh probably with [Nikola] Pekovic, yeah [laughs].

Images courtesy of Catalyst