He’s a 7-foot, formerly 305-pound center that has dropped 10-15 pounds. He has good hands and a soft touch around the basket. He is not Przemek Karnowski, but will be Karnowski’s teammate soon.
He’s Ryan Edwards, a standout at Glacier High in Kalispell who signed a letter of intent Wednesday to play basketball for Gonzaga. The Bulldogs also signed 6-8 forward Lucas Meikle from Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma.
The first practice of Edwards’ senior season is Monday, but he’s spent several months getting prepared. Edwards, who orally committed to Gonzaga in June, has been working with a personal trainer. He’s dropped 10 pounds by following his conditioning regimen and making healthier food choices.
“We hired a trainer over the summer and I did a lot of strength training, plyometrics and hill running, trying to get in better shape, drop a few pounds, get stronger and lighter on my feet,” Edwards said. “He had me on a strict diet, pretty much chicken and potatoes a lot of the time.”
The results? “I feel a lot better overall and I feel a lot quicker,” he said. “I feel like I can jump off the floor a lot more. I’m just a better overall player.”
Edwards will take a break from some of the workouts with the onset of the prep season. Edwards averaged 12.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 3 blocks for Glacier, which advanced to the state semifinals last season and figures to be in the hunt for a title with 10 seniors and two juniors.
“Ryan shot about 78 percent from the line so when he gets fouled he can make free throws,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “It’s hard to find a guy who is 7-foot with good hands and a soft ball.”
Edwards, who also plays on Glacier’s tennis team, rarely lifted weights before hiring a personal trainer.
“We started off pretty light, pretty much trying to figure out the weaknesses in my body,” he said. “When we got that fixed, we got into strength (training) and plyos, which was really hard.”
Gonzaga will have three 7-footers next season with Edwards, Karnowski and Kelly Olynyk.
Meikle (pronounced ME-cul) averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds as a junior at Bellarmine Prep, which finished fifth at the 4A state tournament. The 200-pound Meikle is considered a skilled forward who can stretch defenses with his perimeter shooting.
“Lucas is a skilled four-man who is able to trail the break and shoot the three,” Few said. “His best days are ahead of him once his body matures physically. He’s skilled and a hard worker, two great attributes.”
Meikle, who was recruited by Washington, Washington State and California, was first-team All-Narrows League and named to The News Tribune’s (Tacoma) All-Area squad.