When Towns, a Northland graduate who played two seasons at Harvard, got a call from Blue Devils basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, it delayed but did not change his decision to become a Buckeye.
A few years ago, Seth Towns landed a compliment that meant the world to him.
While fashioning a standout career at Harvard, Northland’s all-time leading scorer was back home during the summer and hanging out with members of Carmen’s Crew. One member of the Ohio State-themed team competing in The Basketball Tournament, David Lighty, was speaking with Towns when he dropped some meaningful praise.
"I was just around all of the guys and he and I were having a conversation," Towns told The Dispatch on Sunday morning. "I was telling him how cool it was for me to be around all them because they were my heroes growing up. He just laughed, shook his head and said, ‘Nah, you’re already an honorary Buckeye.’ "
Now Towns is going to experience the real thing. He picked Ohio State over Duke live on ESPN’s "SportsCenter," donning a Buckeyes hat live on national television Saturday night. It capped a week Towns described as "madness," one that started with him announcing his plans to pick a school, only to have the Blue Devils swoop in and throw a temporary wrench into things.
Last Monday night, Towns posted to Twitter that he was going to pick a school this week from a list of finalists that included Ohio State, Virginia, Kansas, Michigan, Maryland and Syracuse. At that moment, Towns said Sunday, he was pretty much set on picking the Buckeyes. Then he got a phone call from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who had coached Towns’ Harvard coach, Tommy Amaker.
The development was mostly unexpected, and it forced Towns to take stock of what he wanted. Campus visits were out of the question because of the coronavirus pandemic, so phone calls were made and information was gathered.
"When I received a call from coach K, I don’t really know how to describe it," Towns said. "It just made it more real. I had to step back and really evaluate what I was going to do, especially since I had already planned on doing it this week."
Ultimately, the chance to be close to home and play for a coach in Chris Holtmann who had recruited him to Butler won out. He arrives at Ohio State having averaged 14.2 points and 5.0 rebounds in two seasons at Harvard, including a sophomore season where he was named Ivy League player of the year.
That was back in 2017-18. Towns has missed the past two seasons because of knee issues, and he will have some rust to knock off when he returns to the court. He said he is on target for a June return.
At full health, Towns brings size and scoring ability to the wing position and can also play some forward. He’s listed at 6 feet 7, 215 pounds.
"I’m a really competitive player," he said. "It’s no secret that I score the basketball. Just being able to fit me right in with the pieces they already have, there are some really talented guys on the team I’m excited to play with. Just bringing in my leadership qualities, my competitiveness and making sure that everything is team-oriented is something that I’m excited for."
He was listed as a three-star prospect, the No. 9 player from Ohio and the nation’s No. 129 overall recruit out of high school according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings. Last week, ESPN named him the nation’s No. 1 transfer player with immediate eligibility.
Towns will have two seasons to play for the Buckeyes.
"It was unbelievable for me," he said of committing. "Playing for Ohio State has been a childhood dream of mine. I was born a Buckeye, raised a Buckeye, and even while I was at Harvard, I was always watching Ohio State, cheering for them."