Weight: 287 pounds
2014–15 stats: 38 games, 37 starts, 24.5 minutes, 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 blocks, 62% FG
Key quote: “Our bigs are what separate us on the national level.” ~Gonzaga coach Mark Few, March 2015
It was a fitting precursor for 2015–16, what Mark Few said to media after Gonzaga had dispatched BYU for the WCC tournament championship. While GU’s guards made this past season’s team go (Kevin Pangos was a worthy conference POTY—no player in America maintained a better pulse of his team), it was the three-headed monster of Shem, Kyle Wiltjer, and Domantas Sabonis that made Gonzaga Elite.
Few also noted that Karnowski represents something of a dying breed in the current college basketball climate. A center, in the throw-back notion of the word. In ‘14–15, Karnowski was rivaled by that claim by Duke’s Jalil Okafor on the national level. Not only is ‘Shem’ impossible to move off the low block, his scoring touch is impeccable (see: nifty lefty hook), and his passing out of the post is continually underrated.
Of Gonzaga’s three front court forces, Karnowski may be the most interesting to track this season. The attention he devotes will free up Wiltjer to wreak his inside-out scoring, while also giving Sabonis freedom to do work on the opposite block.