Zags land big man from Poland

The first member of Gonzaga’s 2012 men’s basketball recruiting class figures to make a big impression.

Przemek Karnowski, a 7-foot-1, 280-pound center from Poland, announced his intentions Wednesday morning on twitter: “In the next season I will play in Zags’ uni!” The left-handed Karnowski, who has played on Poland’s junior national teams, selected Gonzaga over Cal. He visited both schools recently and turned down an opportunity to visit Duke.

Those familiar with Karnowski say he has great hands and a natural feel for the game. He can score on the low block and he’s considered an excellent passer.

Asked via email why he selected Gonzaga, Karnowski replied, “I think Gonzaga is the best fit for me, (with the) coaching staff and Top 25 roster. I want to help the team as much as I can.”

Karnowski, the likely replacement for graduated center Robert Sacre, joins Gonzaga’s trio of front-court players, including juniors-to-be Sam Dower and Kelly Olynyk and senior Elias Harris.

The addition of Karnowski gives Gonzaga several options at the front-court positions. Harris, who played the ‘4’ (power forward) last season, could see some time at ‘3’ (small forward). Dower and Olynyk, who is coming off a redshirt season, are capable of playing power forward or center.

“I want to help the team with my low-post game and also I really like to pass from the post to the weak side for the 3-pointer,” Karnowski wrote in an email. “I want to work on improving my body, that’s my main goal for next year. I also want to work on my right hand and my defense.”

Eurohopes.com ranked Karnowski as the top prospect for European players born in 1993. Ricky Rubio, rated No. 1 in the 1990 class, plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Enes Kanter, No. 2 in 1992, is with the Utah Jazz.

Karnowski averaged 13.2 points for Poland in the FIBA U-19 world championships last summer. He hopes to be on GU’s campus in late August.

Giacoletti interviewing

Gonzaga assistant coach Ray Giacoletti will interview today for the head coaching job at Illinois State University. Giacoletti, who has head coaching experience at North Dakota State, Eastern Washington and Utah, was an assistant at ISU from 1990-93. He is a native of East Peoria, Ill.

Former ISU standout player and current Vanderbilt assistant Dan Muller is also expected to interview today. He was inducted into ISU’s Hall of Fame in 2009. Muller doesn’t have head coaching experience.

GU, Kansas State in Seattle

Gonzaga appears to have lined up another marquee opponent for the Battle in Seattle. The Bulldogs are finalizing an agreement to face Kansas State, under new coach Bruce Weber, next season. The Wildcats thumped Gonzaga 81-64 in November, 2010, in Kansas City. Kansas State has played in four of the last five NCAA tournaments.

Gonzaga will likely face the Wildcats the following season in Kansas City or Wichita, the Wichita Eagle reported.

Weber previously coached at Illinois, which will play the last of a four-game series with Gonzaga this season.

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