Karl-Anthony Towns, the No. 1 overall pick of the Timberwolves in this past summer’s draft, is making a strong impression on and off the court early in his career. This past week, he surprised 15 boys and girls from a YMCA in north Minneapolis with $150 Dick’s Sporting Goods gift cards as part of Dick’s “Sports Matter” initiative. At that event, Towns chatted with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand.


Q You just turned 20. What does it mean to you to be able to give back like this and be around these kids?

A I mean, it’s amazing. … It’s a very important thing. Sports have changed my life and my family’s life. … I remember numerous times canning outside supermarkets asking for money so we could support our programs and organizations for playing sports. I remember spending all day Saturday and Sunday helping my dad with our AAU team, baseball teams. There’s so many times I remember doing stuff like that.


Q Did you ever get to meet a superstar like yourself in the midst of all that?

A I don’t know if I’m a superstar.


Q OK, the No. 1 overall pick. Did you ever get to meet someone like that?

A Not unless they went to ShopRite [laughs].


Q I saw that interview you did with Kevin Durant when you were a high school freshman. What was that like?

A He was my favorite player growing up, and definitely my favorite player in high school. That was very cool, and it was very fun to get a chance to do something I always wanted to do myself — something I even want to do after my career is over.


Q Yeah, are you coming for my job?

A I’m coming for your job. Nah, you’re pretty good at it. I’ll keep mine.


Q OK, good. … A lot of people picked up on the amusement of your imaginary friend, Karlito Towns [who even has his own Twitter account, @Karlito_Towns]. Are you surprised that became such a thing?

A No, because they loved it at Kentucky. That’s where it really grew. It became something special, and I can’t wait to do more with him. I have a lot of future plans for him. He’s going to be around for a long time.


Q But you can’t tell me what they are?

A No, they’re in the works.


Q Who’s the funniest guy on the team aside from yourself? To me, Zach LaVine seems pretty funny, but I want to know what you think.

A Oh, I don’t know. We’re all pretty funny. I can’t pick one.


Q So how do the personalities and group dynamics work with all the young guys and veterans?

A Everyone is pretty goofy in their own way, and we all get along because we all have moments where we’re really, really funny.


Q Even KG?

A KG is more serious.


Q How is that relationship?

A It’s awesome. It’s not even about a teammate. It’s like having him as a friend or like a brother. He treats us all like family, and to have him on our team and our side, there’s no better feeling.