|DraftExpress: Przemek Karnowski is a huge get for Gonzaga. Would be a McD's All-American type recruit in the US for sure. DX Profile: http://t.co/5MMCjDZN|
|DraftExpress: RT @ChristopheEPcom: We were told by @rafjuc that Przemek Karnowski and Mateusz Ponitka will play at the @nikehoopsummit this year. Grea ...|
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|Top NBA Prospects in the Non-BCS Conferences, Part One: (#1-5) |
October 29, 2013
Upset in the NCAA Tournament round of 32 by an upstart Wichita State team that made it all the way to the Final Four, Mark Few's Gonzaga Bulldogs nonetheless had a season to remember, winning 32 games with a deep roster with a growing international presence. The team's newest foreign import a season ago was 7'1 Polish freshman Przemek Karnowski who averaged 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in 10.7 minutes per-game coming off the bench behind the team's NBA-bound frontcourt of Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris.
What makes Karnowski intriguing isn't just what kind of player he could become in the next few years, but also how he made it to the NCAA in the first place. The first time we wrote about the massive center, he was fresh off helping the talented 1993-born generation that comprised Poland's U17 National Team to a surprising second place finish at the 2010 U17 World Championship in Hamburg, Germany. Watching Karnowski's All-Tournament Team performance alongside a litany of NBA front office personnel was Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd who had made the trip to watch junior point guard Kevin Pangos compete for Canada.
Karnowski has been considered one of the top European prospects in his generation for some time now. He emerged as one of the top centers in the lower levels of Polish basketball, but continued to gain exposure internationally during the summer of 2011 competing in the Nike Hoop Summit and at the U19 World Championships. During the 2011-2012 season, he averaged 10.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per-game as a rookie in the Polish first division with Siarka Tarnobrzeg, setting himself up to be among the most valuable young commodities in all of Europe with his size and skill level.
Despite the trajectory of Karnowski's career in Europe, rumors of his desire to play college basketball persisted and overtures from the Gonzaga staff ultimately landed his commitment in May of 2012. While it is not unprecedented for a top European prospect to retain their amateur status to facilitate a jump from a professional league in their respective country to the NCAA, it is far from a common occurrence considering the short-term financial ramifications.
Already firmly on the NBA radar when he arrived in Spokane as a freshman, Karnowski started strong, scoring 22 points in his NCAA debut against Southern Utah, but struggled with his conditioning and the depth of Gonzaga's roster for much of the season. Putting together a handful of strong performances nonetheless, he spent the majority of the season on the bench as Kelly Olynyk became one of the most productive players in the country, playing sparingly most nights and not having much opportunity to show what he can do at the college level.
That'll change this season as Karnowski and senior Sam Dower look to replace Harris and Olynyk up front. As Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn outlined a few months ago, Karnowski used a significant percentage of Gonzaga's possessions (27%) when he was on the floor last season, and should see his production expand significantly with added playing time.
Standing 7'1 and weighing 305-pounds according to Gonzaga, Karnowski has excellent size for a center at any level. Spending the summer competing internationally for Poland in its dominant run to the U20 Division B Championship and with the country's Senior National Team at the Eurobasket in Slovenia, he enters his sophomore season in considerably better shape than he was in a year ago. Though he possesses below average foot speed and athleticism on the whole, Karnowski's size and back-to-the-basket ability will allow him to add a different dimension to the Gonzaga offense when he's on the floor.
Skill-wise, Karnowski is far from flashy, but has strong fundamentals and a good feel for the game. His size lets him establish deep position and move bodies in the post, and his soft hands make him a very reliable target in the paint. He isn't an explosive leaper, but his soft touch made him a dangerous threat in close in limited touches last season, helping him make 55% of his 2-point attempts. In one-on-one situations on the block, he can score with hook shots over either shoulder and shows good passing ability with his back to the basket. Away from the basket, Karnowski has considerable room for improvement. Though he has shown the ability to hit 15-footers on occasion throughout his career, he hasn't translated that aspect of his game to the college level and shot a dismal 47.1% from the line last season.
Defensively, Karnowski is a solid rebounder and has the strength to hold his own in the post, but his lack of footspeed and underwhelming leaping ability severely limit his ability to keep up with quicker players away from the basket and hamper his shot-blocking presence. NBA decision-makers will be closely monitoring how his body improves in the coming seasons and what if anything that means to his athletic ability and defensive potential.
Looking ahead, Karnowski will be one of the more intriguing prospects to follow at the mid-major level this season. He'll certainly have the opportunity to solidify himself as an early entry candidate and could factor into draft conversations as early as next summer should he have a breakout season.
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Nike Hoop Summit Scouting Reports: International Forwards/Big Men
April 15, 2011
Polish center Przemek Karnowski impressed many who saw him at the 2010 U-17 World Championships in Hamburg, where he helped lead Poland to silver medal. He ended up playing just over 7 minutes in the game at the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit, however, which was less than any other player from either squad. The World Team was pretty deep at the big positions, and with Karnowski being so overmatched from an athletic point, it's likely that Coach Roy Rana figured his other big men gave them a better chance to compete.
Karnowski was by far the biggest player on either roster, measuring at 7'1” and 279 pounds. His body needs some trimming up (16.3% body fat), and he lacks ideal athleticism, but he has some very nice tools for such a young player at his size.
He showed the ability to comfortably catch the ball and makes plays with his back to the basket and facing up, as well as a high basketball IQ for a big man, throwing some heady passes out of the post and to open cutters when facing up on the perimeter.
Karnowski also shoots the ball very well for a big center, with range close to the 3-point line at this stage, which will likely only continue to improve. He also showed some post moves and an overall high skill level. Learning to utilize his skills against higher level athletes will likely be an adjustment for him, and will probably take some time, as he's still only 17 years old.
Defensively, Karnowski is a liability against more mobile big men, and below average length, explosiveness and conditioning prevent him from being a big factor as a shot-blocker. He seems to be a pretty smart player, and he certainly takes up space in the paint and showed some toughness on the glass, but his agility would be an issue in defending pick-and-rolls and keeping up with more mobile big men running the floor.
Overall, Karnowski is clearly a player that is worth keeping an eye on, as players with his size, girth, skills and feel are incredibly tough to come by. How he fares on his next team—be it in the NCAA (rumored to be a strong option) or as a professional in Europe—will likely tell us quite a bit about his long-term potential as a NBA player. How far he comes with his conditioning level will likely play a big factor in his future success.
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2011 Nike Hoop Summit: International Measurements
April 4, 2011
Weight: 279 lbs.
Height (w/o shoes): 6'11.25"
Height (w/ shoes): 7'1"
Body Fat: 16.3%
Standing Reach: 9'0.25"
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FIBA U-17 World Championships: Top International Prospects
August 7, 2010
Left-handed Polish center Przemyslaw Karnowski had one of the better showings of any of the international players in Hamburg. He was the main facilitator and, at times, the go-to guy for the biggest surprise team of the tournament.
6-11, with a massive frame, Karnowski is a presence anytime he steps on the court. He establishes deep position in the post and has a solid back to the basket game, showing nice touch and a solid fade-away jumper that he likes to go to on the block. With that said, Hhis best asset clearly revolves around is his passing ability, though. He regularly whips terrific passes all over the floor with excellent timing, drawing comparisons to Brad Miller in the process. Like Miller, he can also step outside the paint and comfortably make jumpers with solid range.
Karnowski is a below average athlete at best. He's a below-the-rim type of player who lumbers up and down the floor. This affects him primarily on the defensive end. He lacks the lateral quickness to stay in front of more athletic opponents who attack him off the dribble. Though Karnowski shows nice timing blocking shots defending on the ball, he is not a presence at all rotating from the weak side. His conditioning is poor—he could stand to lose a good 105-120 pounds—and this really shows late in games, when he struggles to run the court. Karnowski does a good job cleaning the glass in and around his area, but he projects as a below average rebounder at the pro level due to his physical limitations.
On the plus side, Karnowski is a smart, competitive guy who has yet to turn 17 years old and already has intriguing characteristics that can't be taught. It will be interesting to follow his development over the next few seasons and see how he continues to improve athletically and skill-wise.
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