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Former Gonzaga star Przemek Karnowski joins Arizona staff as graduate assistant

arizona-wildcats-przemek-karnowski-gonzaga-graduate-assistant-tommy-lloyd-basketball-pac12-2023 Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Tommy Lloyd’s Gonzaga roots have paid off for Arizona once again, this time to help fill an open spot on the coaching staff.

The UA has added former Bulldogs center Przemek Karnowski as a graduate assistant, taking the spot held last season by ex-Arizona forward Ryan Anderson.

“He actually showed up last night,” Lloyd said of Karnowski, who played for Gonzaga and Lloyd from 2012-17. “There’s a ton of value having a big man GA, and there’s not a lot of them out there.”

A member of Gonzaga’s 2016-17 team that reached the NCAA title game in Glendale, the 7-foot-1 Karnowski most recently played professionally in Poland but a series of injuries dating back to college have impacted his career.

“Obviously he and I have a special relationship and a long history,” said Lloyd, who recruited Karnowski to Gonzaga after seeing him play at the FIBA U17 World Cup in 2010. “Unfortunately ... his body’s not letting him play the game anymore. He’s a heck of a player and he’s young. He and I talked over the summer, and fortunately it’s worked out now so I’m excited about it.”

Karnowski spent the tail end of Wednesday’s practice working exclusively with UA big men Dylan Anderson and Henri Veesaar, both defending them and posting up on the freshmen.

“Shimmy he was one of the smartest players I’ve ever been around,” Lloyd said. “He thought the game like a coach and he’s a very unique player. So to have someone ... with that size and that experience. Just having that body ... the beautiful thing about Przemek, he don’t need a blue pad. You can just use his body to hit against, so it’ll be great for all our guys.”

Arizona faced Gonzaga teams with Karnowski three times during his career, winning two of three meetings including an 84-61 victory in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament in San Diego. Karnowski had 14 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks in 30 minutes in that game, and overall against the UA he averaged 14.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks on 66.7 percent shooting.