By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Karl-Anthony Towns is a young man with many gifts, but the 19-year-old top pick of the National Basketball Association Draft vowed to give all he can to help turn around his new team, the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The 19-year-old Towns, who has thrived academically and aspires one day to become a doctor, is focused on helping to cure the ills of the Wolves, who have missed the playoffs for the last 11 years.
"That's going to be the main goal of the season for me, making the playoffs," said Towns, who helped Kentucky to a 38-0 record as a freshman forward-center last season.
"I know the one thing I have to do is I have to live up to the expectations and goals and lofty expectations that people are going to have for me for being the number one pick.
"But through my life, there's always been expectations and goals set against me, and I've just always had to meet them ... and also jump over the goals and the hurdles."
The versatile big man honed his game on a homemade basketball court at his New Jersey house that was promised to him by his father after a Christmas when they had no money for presents.
All the early training with his father paid off.
He won New Jersey state high school titles and played on the Dominican Republic national team as a 6-foot-10 (2.08m) ninth-grader, representing his mother's home country.
Towns said it was special to share his NBA Draft moment with close to 50 friends and family from neighboring New Jersey on hand at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
"I mean, I'm home. This is home to me," he told reporters.
"My sister started crying immediately. My mom started crying. My dad was just very ecstatic. All those times me and him were in the gym, and you see the end result."
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)