Przemek Karnowski, Kennedy Meeks renew NCAA title-game battle in Denver as NBA draft hopefuls

Przemek Karnowski, Kennedy Meeks renew NCAA title-game battle in Denver as NBA draft hopefuls

Nearly 600 pounds of basketball force rattled the floors of the practice gym inside the Pepsi Center.

Przemek Karnowski (7-foot, 300 pounds) and Kennedy Meeks (6-9, 279) were renewing a battle while working out for the Nuggets on Friday morning that they first waged more than two months ago in front of a far larger audience.

Meeks and North Carolina topped Karnowski and Gonzaga 71-65 in the national championship game in Glendale, Ariz., on April 3, and now both men now are attempting to continue their careers in the NBA. They had already faced each other at a workout in Dallas before arriving in Denver.

And, yes, a certain topic of conversation took place.

“We’ve been bruising each other up a little bit,” said Meeks, who had seven points and 10 rebounds in the title-game victory. “It’s all fun and games and I can joke around about it with him a little more than some of his teammates. He’s a fun guy and a great player.”

Karnowski, who lamented his 1-for-8 shooting in the game, finished with nine points and nine rebounds. The loss stung. But he has cherished a run to the title game that no other team in Gonzaga history had ever made.

“It was memorable, especially having 37 wins at the end of the season,” Karnowski said. “I thought that was huge for our university and our community in Spokane. We have a great support system.”

The bigger-than-most big men are likely to be either second-round selections in Thursday’s NBA draft or go undrafted. Both believe they have what it takes to play in the NBA. Karnowski, a native of Poland, said he’s “a big body” who would be able to match up physically right away. Meeks has worked to improve his shooting and has aimed to show during nearly a dozen workouts that he could help a team in a variety of ways.

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“I think I’ve definitely put myself in position to get picked up and have a good career,” Meeks said.

The Nuggets have hosted a total of six draft hopefuls who played in the national championship game, and that doesn’t include North Carolina’s Justin Jackson or Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, both of whom could be selected during the lottery in Thursday’s draft. Gonzaga guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who was a player of the year candidate last season, worked out for the Nuggets on Thursday.

Slammin’ Bam. The Nuggets on Friday also welcomed Kentucky big man Bam Adebayo, a 6-10 center who averaged 13 points and eight rebounds per game as a freshman last season. Adebayo, who many draft analysts expect will be selected among the top-20 picks, made 170 field goals for the Wildcats last season — 101 of them were dunks.

A familiarity with hammering the ball through the rim seemed to pay dividends as Adebayo surged off the floor during a drill in which players pick up the ball on one low-post block, take a step, slam the ball and then complete the process on the other side.

“I play with passion,” said Adebayo, explaining what sets him apart in a draft class filled with other talented bigs. “I can guard (positions) one through five, I can shoot, make decent passes, and play with energy.”

The Nuggets also worked out Ismael Bako (6-10, Belgium), Ike Iroegbu (6-2, Washington State) and Jaren Sina (6-2, George Washington).

White on the way. The Nuggets will work out six more draft hopefuls Monday, including former Colorado and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs guard Derrick White.

White played for Legend High School in Parker before beginning his college career at Division II UCCS. In his lone season at Colorado, White was a first-team all-Pac-12 selection. He is considered a borderline first-round prospect.

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