Gonzaga’s Karnowski ‘ahead of schedule’ following back surgery

Brad Horrigan/Hartford Courant via AP

Przemek Karnowski missed all but six games of the 2015-16 season with a back injury that required surgery in Dec., but the Gonzaga 7-footer told the Spokesman Review that he is “ahead of schedule” returning to the court.

Karnowski is cleared to play 5-on-5, but there’s no reason to push it at this point. Weight and getting into shape has been an issue for Karnowski throughout his Gonzaga career, and undergoing back surgery is the kind of thing that can be a major setback.

What is clear, however, is that Karnowski is a critical piece for a Gonzaga team that should be very good this season. He’s one of the best rim-protectors in college basketball and a solid low-post scoring threat. Perhaps more important, however, is the fact that the Zags just don’t have all that much size or experience on their front line. Missouri transfer Jonathan Williams III is eligible and Zach Collins will enroll this season, but Karnowski is going to be counted on to play a critical role this season.

Which is why hearing that he’s ahead of schedule is so important.