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Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor on verge of life-changing night at NBA Draft

This composite image shows Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns, left,

This composite image shows Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns, left, and Duke's Jahlil Okafor. Credit: Getty Images / Andy Lyons, Ronald Martinez

Karl-Anthony Towns has spent the last few days walking around his old neighborhood in Piscataway, New Jersey, driving past the house he grew up in -- the one with the net that his dad installed -- and practicing with old teammates at St. Joseph's High School.

As it turns out, it's pretty normal to think about the past on the eve of the night that will decide your future.

Towns, who played his freshman season at Kentucky, and Duke's Jahlil Okafor are projected to be the top two picks in Thursday night's NBA Draft. They both spoke at length on Wednesday afternoon about the life left behind, how much they'll miss it, but how excited they are to get this heart-thumping new chapter underway.

"I miss Duke a lot," said Okafor, who just wrapped up a season where he was the first freshman Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year. "I miss everything about Duke -- Coach K [Mike Krzyzewski], the trainers, the students . . . I've been talking to guys about it."

But . . .

"It's been a long process," he said. "It's been a lot of fun, but I'm ready for it to be over with so I know where I'm playing."

Okafor said he's only had workouts with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have the No. 1 pick, and the Los Angeles Lakers, who hold the second pick. While he hopes to go high, he has prepared himself for the worst. But when you're Okafor, "the worst" is top five. "[It] isn't that bad," he said. "I'll still be living my dream of playing in the NBA. I'll be excited either way."

Towns took it a step further.

"If I go one, two, 59, 60, whatever team I go to, I'm just going to be the best player I can possibly be," Towns said.

The Kentucky center slowly is preparing himself for a life less ordinary. He has visited old haunts, hung out with friends and is doing all he can to keep himself grounded. He's already enrolled in online classes and wants to get his degree, though, like Okafor, will be a one-and-done player.

"I've been in Kentucky for so long, I just had a blast coming back home and reliving how I used to live before all this madness started," Towns said. "It's so humbling to see how far I've really come.

"It's definitely about everybody that's helped me with this journey. I've been blessed to have such great parents who allowed me to play this game at a level that a lot of people can't with a lot less stress."

Towns was asked about potentially playing with the Timberwolves.

"If I'm blessed and honored and privileged to be on that team," he said, "I can't wait to add my contribution.".

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