When Corey Kispert sits down and
watches film from his freshman and sophomore years at Gonzaga, he
doesn’t recognize himself in some ways. He was still a solid
marksman from beyond the arc, but not nearly as on-target as he’s
been as an upperclassman with the Bulldogs, and there’s another
element of his game that’s really matured as well.
“I’ve grown my game so much off of the dribble over the last two
years,” Kispert said at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week.
“That’s kind of a testament of how much I can improve in that time,
and I can’t wait to see how much I improve from here on out.”
At the Combine, Kispert interviewed with the Boston Celtics, New
Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves,
Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, New York
Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles
A New Orleans reporter asked him about the Pels, to which
Kispert replied that he is “tailor-made” to play with Zion
Williamson and Brandon Ingram, guys who need the ball in their
hands and driving lanes to score.
“I’m able to put the defense in constant motion, move the
furniture around to give those guys opportunities to make plays,”
Kispert said. “I’m a great complement as well just to take pressure
off of ‘em. Those guys need to go out and score 20-25 a night;
that’s the kind of players they are. But I’m definitely able to
step in and take that scoring load off of them, too, with obviously
my shooting and playmaking.”
The majority of Kispert comparisons are to his good friend Joe
Harris, and he welcomes the honor; however, that’s not who he pays
the closest attention to in studying the tape. His favorite player
to watch is Klay Thompson, whose 60-points-on-12-dribbles game is
Kispert’s main go-to highlight when he is coming off a tough night
on the court.
“The guy that has been the gold standard for me forever,”
Kispert said. “The way he plays the game, the way he impacts their
team... you see how much [the Warriors] miss him since he’s been
out. I want to be as close to that as I can.”
Coming off a steadily-ascending, four-year-long
career that nearly culminated with a national championship,
Kispert is champing at the bit to show what he’s made of at the
next level. After all, this isn’t the first time that he’s declared
for the NBA Draft.
Following an abrupt end to his junior campaign due to the
pandemic, Kispert threw his name into the hat as an early-entrant
junior in April 2020. Three-and-a-half months later, he chose to
withdraw and finish things out in college.
As a senior, Kispert produced by posting career-high averages
almost across the board: points (18.6), rebounds (5.0) and, most
importantly, True Shooting percentage (66.3%), free-throw
percentage (87.8%) and three-point percentage (44.0%).
In addition, Kispert boasted a 23.1% usage rate, expanding his
role from shooter to multi-tool scoring threat.
“I treated all last year as kind of a runway to my rookie
season,” Kispert said. “I went through the draft process last year
and was able to get feedback from teams and kinda took their advice
to heart, and was able to implement those things right away.”
Though the last three rounds of this year’s NCAA Tournament may
not have gone as planned individually, and his team coming up short
in the title game will leave a bad taste in his mouth, he looks at
the overall experience as a plus going into the pros.
“Being in a pressure situation in the Final Four and the
National Championship game is gonna be able to [help me] translate
right away into those big games, especially when the fans come back
into those arenas in those packed playoff environments. If I’m
blessed enough to play in the playoffs next season, I’ll be able to
draw back on that," he explained.
“It helped me understand what it takes to win a game like that.
I’ve played in a National Championship [game] before and we came
out a little bit flat and it cost us the game, so being able to
come out for a game with enough energy to take on a team like
Baylor was huge. I had a great year. I grew a bunch as a person.
Having to navigate through COVID and all the protocols we had to
work with was not an easy task. Putting a team together with
[those] kind of obstacles is tough. I had a lot of fun playing this
year though, [with] all that being said. It was one of the most
enjoyable years of basketball I can remember. A lot of good and a
lot of bad.”
There’s still more work to do in utilizing his all-around game.
For example, Kispert realizes he needs to do a better job of
consistently putting the ball on the deck when defenders over-close
on him near the perimeter. It’ll make guys pay for guarding with
too much aggressiveness.
“It’s reading guys out of the corner of your eye,” Kispert said.
“You’re looking at the ball coming in; I think you can feel the
defender, and that’s something that I’m really thankful to have
thousands and thousands of reps doing, just being in games. That’s
kinda the situation I find myself in a lot. So just continuing to
work on that, kinda sharpening the tools in my toolbox in every way
While he didn’t participate in any scrimmages (like most
projected lottery picks to avoid injury), Kispert helped himself a
ton in the Combine testing drills. He tied for the
runner-up in the shuttle run among his peers (2.99 seconds) and
placed 10th in lane agility (10.91 seconds).
And although he was in the middle of the pack in the
three-quarter sprint (3.12 seconds) and both of his measured
vertical leaps (30.0 inches standing, 37.5 inches maximum), Kispert
believes he did enough to dispel the common misconception that he’s
“I think I get pegged as a guy who people can take advantage of
on defense, and for whatever reason, a guy who can’t run, can’t
jump, whatever,” Kispert said. “The numbers I had in the Combine
were a great start to proving people wrong, and I can’t wait to get
on the floor and continue to do that.”
“Whoever I’m fortunate enough to play for, I want to be there
and play significant minutes and make an impact right away. I want
to impact winning and I want to be able to call that place home for
a while,” Kispert said. “I want to have enough impact to be able to
play for long periods of time, hopefully for the same team, and I
think this is a really good start and the kind of Combine I’ve had
is a good start towards that.”
Wherever he ends up going, Kispert has his goals in mind, and
with the loyalty he displayed to Mark Few and the Bulldogs, it’s
not surprising to find out he wants to find a place to stick.