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Gonzaga's Przemek Karnowski to have season ending surgery

Bad news for Gonzaga's big man with back problems.

Przemek Karnowski reacts during Gonzaga's 2015 NCAA Tournament round of 64 game against North Dakota State.
Przemek Karnowski reacts during Gonzaga's 2015 NCAA Tournament round of 64 game against North Dakota State.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

First it was just one game, against Washington State in early December, that Przemek Karnowski missed due to back problems. With each passing absence things only seemed to get worse. After eight straight DNPs it appears there is an answer about the status of Gonzaga's 7-foot-1 senior center with the bulging disc in his back.

In five games this season Karnowski was averaging 8.8 points and 5.4 rebounds while serving as the defensive tone-setter for the Zags. A starter since his sophomore year — the highly touted freshman who chose Gonzaga over the likes of Duke and Cal had to play behind Elias Harris, Kelly Olynyk and Sam Dower in his first year — Karnowski developed into the quintessential four-year college player. Each year he developed and improved his game but he didn't bolt to the pros.

Karnowski has been an impact player for the Zags since day one. As for any player this is an unfortunate way for a senior season to end. But for a player like Karnowski, who was on track to finish high on many all-time Gonzaga record lists, it stings a bit more.

With 96 career wins coming into this year he was on track to pass Kevin Pangos as Gonzaga's all-time wins leader. A pedestrian, by Gonzaga standards, 26 win season was all he needed.

Having played only five games Karnowski could earn a medical redshirt should he chose to. But with NBA-level talent and four years already spent in college Gonzaga fans shouldn't bank on that.

Regardless of what happens from here, Karnowski will go down as one of the most talented recruits to ever pick Gonzaga. His career accomplishments make him yet another in a long line of exceptional big men to play in Spokane. He was a key cog in Gonzaga's two winningest seasons ever.

Gonzaga plays at WCC rival Santa Clara tonight, Karnowski did not make the trip.