He is a force to be reckoned with standing at just over seven feet tall and weighing 305 pounds. This is Gonzaga’s Przemek Karnowski.
The 19-year-old center for the men’s basketball team joins GU from Torun, Poland, and he has taken the fans by storm.
Basketball has been a part of Karnowski’s life from a young age. Growing up he followed the NBA and was inspired by some watching some of the legends. “I watched the NBA when I was at home, so I guess like everyone I watched Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Michael Jordan, but my favorite is Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon,” Karnowski said.
In Poland Karnowski watched American basketball. However, the challenge came when he needed to play. “Here the game is much quicker and more athletic,” Karnowski said.
“His adjustment to American basketball is coming along. We’re only at the beginning of a long journey for Przemek, and at the end of the day when we see his growth it’s going to be pretty special,” Robert Ercoli, freshman team manager, said.
“Przemek brings a unique personality to the team. He brings the team together. His openness to transfer from his home, and his dedication of his time and energy is a great asset for the Zags” Ercoli said.
As the tallest GU basketball player, Karnowski brings something that the others sometimes cannot. “We quickly learned what a great person he is in addition to being a talented basketball player. He works hard and he’s a great left-handed post player with lots of potential and ability to grow,” Ercoli said.
Moving to America was no simple task for Karnowski. “I’m a 20 hour flight from my home so of course I miss my home; it’s another language, other cultures so I had a lot of adjustment but right now I feel good and I’m doing good,” Karnowski said. “[What I miss most is] food, for sure. America has a lot of fast food so I miss traditional Polish food. I have to adjust like I said.”
American food may not be his choice food, but one part of GU is a personal favorite for Karnowski. “The crowd, the crowd is special,” Karnowski said. “I’ve never played before in front of a crowd like this, the Kennel Club and a full house every game, its crazy. Like I said, it’s special,” Karnowski said with a smile on his face. “I love . . . I love the fans.”
And the fans love Karnowski. At GU’s game at home against BYU one of the fan signs was painted to look like Poland’s flag and read, “Kochamy cię,” which translates to “We love you” in Polish.
By Madeline Elisha