How old is Seth Towns? Explaining the Howard forward’s college basketball eligibility at age 26

Normally, when you tune into March Madness, you watch a bunch of college kids compete to win a national championship.

Because of the NCAA’s eligibility rules — particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic — the term “kids” can apply loosely.

Such is the case for Howard forward Seth Towns, who is 26 years old as he leads the Bison into the NCAA Tournament with Tuesday’s First Four matchup against Wagner.

College basketball players’ ages typically run from 18 to 23, but transfer rules, medical redshirts and the COVID eligibility year have stretched the upper limits of that range.

How is Towns still playing college hoops at 26? The Sporting News breaks down his journey.

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How is Howard’s Seth Towns eligible to play college basketball at 26?

Towns’ NCAA eligibility at age 26 springs from the Howard super senior’s triumphant journey of overcoming injuries.

Towns graduated high school in 2016, putting him in the same recruiting class as NBA stars such as Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo. In fact, he is older than many other NBA stars, including Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Trae Young.

How did he get to the 2024 edition of March Madness? Check out the breakdown of his career, which has led to his eligibility eight years after he first stepped on a college court.

Year School Class Age Story
2016-17 Harvard FR 19 Avg. 12.3 PPG
2017-18 Harvard SO 20 Won Ivy League POY
2018-19 Harvard 21 Medical Redshirt (knee)
2019-20 Harvard 22 Medical Redshirt (knee)
2020-21 Ohio State JR 23 Transferred to OSU; NCAA Tournament bid
2021-22 Ohio State 24 Medical Redshirt (back)
2022-23 Ohio State 25 Took season off
2023-24 Howard SR 26 Transferred to HU; NCAA Tournament bid

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Towns’ college career began at Harvard, where he played his freshman and sophomore seasons from 2016-18. After averaging 16.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore, Towns was named 2017-18 Ivy League Player of the Year.

Ahead of his junior year at Harvard, Towns suffered a season-ending knee injury that required surgery. That kept him out for all the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, but he maintained two years of eligibility as a medical redshirt.

Towns graduated with a degree from Harvard, then he entered the transfer portal ahead of the 2020-21 season. A Columbus, Ohio native, Towns landed at Ohio State University, a place he called “home.”

Towns averaged 10.8 minutes per game for a Buckeyes team that reached the NCAA Tournament in 2021. Before the next season, he suffered a back injury that required season-ending surgery.

He used another medical redshirt year in 2021-22 before deciding to step away from basketball in 2022-23.

“After a few setbacks this summer and some tough conversations with my coaches and medical personnel, it has become clear that my body is not in a position to endure a full Big Ten season,” Towns wrote on Instagram.

After taking a year off, he entered the transfer portal again, landing at Howard for his eighth year of college basketball.

At 26 years old, Towns is the Bisons’ second-leading scorer, averaging 14.2 points per game to lead Howard to a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament championship and March Madness berth.

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