Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns has an imaginary friend

Kentucky forward Karl-Anthony Towns credits his "imaginary friend" for much of his success.
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As one of Kentucky's top freshmen—and that's saying something—Karl-Anthony Towns has several attributes that make him one of the nation's best players. He's 6'11", averages 10 points and 6.8 rebounds per game and converts nearly 60 percent of his shot attempts.

One of his secrets for success? His "imaginary friend," Karlito.

In an interview with USA Today Sports, Towns discussed how Karlito came to be. Not surprisingly, John Calipari and the Wildcats' coaching staff played a significant role.

"He's such a great kid, he doesn't want to talk back to you, so he turns his head to the side and talks to that little man on his shoulder," Calipari said. "And after he started doing it, I said, 'Who are you talking to?' And I can't remember which of the coaches gave it the nickname: 'He's talking to Karlito.'"

Karlito's also spawned a parody Twitter account, always a sure sign of a sports meme's legitimacy.

We'll see how Karlito fares for the rest of March. Towns opened the NCAA tournament with 21 points and 11 rebounds in Kentucky's win over Hampton, then posted eight points, seven rebounds and three blocks in last Saturday's win over Cincinnati.

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Top overall seed Kentucky faces West Virginia, the Midwest regional's No. 5 seed, on Thursday.

Mike Fiammetta