Seth Towns often has been told that he has a coach’s mentality when it comes to playing basketball.
His range of experiences has helped to build that.
Over the past five years, Towns has gone from being one of the state’s top high school players to being an instantly impactful player at the mid-major college level to being sidelined the last two seasons because of a knee injury.
Having to watch from the bench provided a different perspective for the 6-foot-7 forward, who announced March 21 on ESPN that he was committing to Ohio State as a graduate transfer from Harvard.
“When you’re not playing, you’re forced to look at the team with yourself outside of it,” Towns said. “You have to think about all the ways the team can win. Just getting outside of yourself makes you learn a ton. Especially with me being the captain (for Harvard) this year, I try to be (like a) coach.”
Towns, a 2016 Northland graduate, was named district co-Player of the Year in Division I as a junior when he led the Vikings to a regional runner-up finish.
Then as a senior, he averaged 31.6 points, 11 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.5 steals while shooting nearly 80 percent from the free-throw line and better than 40 percent from 3-point range and was named district Player of the Year.
An example of his dominance that season came in a 46-45 victory over Walnut Ridge in the City League championship game, as he scored 35 points to lead Northland to its ninth City title in 10 seasons.
Towns, who finished with a program-record 2,018 points, received interest from Ohio State, Michigan, UCLA, Florida and numerous mid-majors before picking Harvard.
He expects to receive his undergraduate degree from Harvard in sociology in May.
“The standard (at Harvard) is certainly higher (academically), but microeconomics is microeconomics wherever they teach it,” Towns said. “All Harvard students are not the geniuses that you would expect.”
Towns started 20 games as a freshman at Harvard, averaging 12.3 points and 4.4 rebounds as the Crimson went 18-10 and lost to Yale 73-71 in a semifinal of the Ivy League tournament.
As a sophomore, he averaged 16 points and 5.7 rebounds and was named Ivy League Player of the Year and an honorable mention All-American.
His sophomore season ended prematurely, however, as Towns injured his left knee when he hit the floor while driving to the basket with 8 minutes, 20 seconds remaining in the championship game of the Ivy League tournament March 11, 2018. He would not finish the game, which the Crimson lost 68-65 to Penn.
Harvard made the National Invitation Tournament that season, but Towns did not play in the Crimson’s 67-60 first-round loss to Marquette.
The injury lingered, forcing Towns to miss the 2018-19 season. He also ended up missing the 2019-20 season, as Harvard announced Dec. 23 that he had elected to undergo season-ending surgery.
The loss of two seasons gives him two years of eligibility with Ohio State.
“Around June, I should start feeling really good,” Towns said. “The basketball experience (at Harvard) was great. I learned a ton under coach (Tommy) Amaker when I was playing and not playing. It was two different perspectives.
“This whole process has been kind of a roller coaster with the injury. Right now, for instance, I can shoot free throws, but that’s about it. Finding creative ways to work on your game is something I’ve honed in on, for instance, shooting while sitting in a chair and swimming pool cardio workouts. It’s been kind of hard lately to find a gym because of the struggle of the (COVID-19) coronavirus.”
Towns, who is back living in Columbus, chose Ohio State over a list of schools that included Amaker’s alma mater, Duke, as well as Kansas.
“I’m super excited for him,” said Sean Taylor, who coached Towns at Northland. “We’ve stayed in contact through his Harvard career. It was obviously tough to watch him struggle with injuries these last two years, but I have no doubt that he’ll come back stronger than he left. He’s a very focused and driven young man, an extremely hard worker in all he does. Everything happens for a reason is my belief, and without the injuries, he wouldn’t be able to live out his dream of playing (for Ohio State).”
The Buckeyes were 21-10 and set to begin the Big Ten tournament when it was canceled because of the coronavirus. The NCAA later canceled the remainder of the season.
Ultimately, playing for a program Towns grew up following outweighed the opportunity to play for Duke and “the greatest coach of all time” in Mike Krzyzewski.
“Overall, it was a perfect fit across the board,” Towns said. “I’m super excited to play for Ohio State. Home is where the heart is. I’m incredibly excited to play at home, and my parents are the two biggest Buckeye fans. To play for the school I’ve always dreamed of since I was a little kid, to fight for the city that raised me is so invaluable. It gives me a ton of pride.”