The month of April was a big one for Corey Kispert, a 6'6" junior out of King's High School in Seattle. Fresh off winning a second consecutive state title at King's, Kispert embarked on a three-school tour that included Notre Dame and Virginia before concluding in Spokane last week to visit Gonzaga.
When asked what he was looking for when selecting colleges to visit, Kispert commented that "Outside of basketball, education is important to me, and I take it very seriously. It's very important that I succeed in the classroom as well as on the court, so that was kind of taken out with one fell swoop with all of these schools. It was really easy for me to choose to visit them because of their academic success--all three of them. I'm also looking for, and I saw in all three of these places, a strong community that surrounds the school. Charlottesville and Spokane have insane community support for their teams, all the teams are loved and supported by the community. And then also, student life, and a student body that really supports the basketball team is really important to me as well when choosing schools."
While Kispert is already familiar with the GU program, having grown up in Seattle (he's a huge Mariners fan), there were some specific things he was looking forward to experiencing during his visit.
"One of the things I was really looking forward to was getting to be around, and hang out with the guys and see how they treat each other and how they converse with one another. Being apart of that was a really big part of my visit. I hung out with them both nights I was there, and I really enjoyed being around them. They're a really high quality group of guys, and it was really easy to be around them. So that was a huge portion of what I was looking for, and also just to walk around campus and sit in classes while students were on campus. To get the feel and energy of campus life, that was also really big."
When asked if there were specific classes or majors he was interested in, Kispert answered, "Yea, I think I want to be a business management major. I also have an interest in psychology. Nigel Williams-Goss is a psychology major and is super bright, so I went and sat down in one of his psych classes with him."
On how his outside perceptions meshed with his experiences around the visit, Kispert said, "There were really no surprises at all, which was awesome. Everything that I collected from watching Gonzaga on TV and from websites and that kind of thing totally meshed up with what I saw in person. There were no falsehoods, nothing like that, they were all super genuine and cared about each other and were part of a big family." Kispert acknowledged that he watched HBO's docu-series chronicling the Zags' season, and that he wasn't surprised by anything that he saw, "Going into the documentary--having talked to the coaches--I was expecting that kind of brotherhood, and atmosphere, and excitement, and that's what the documentary did a really good job of showing."
The coaching staff haven't been the only Zags in touch with Kispert, as he's heard from Zach Collins during his recruitment. "I talked to Zach Collins briefly, awhile back, and he's talked with me a little bit," said Kispert.
Although his high school career has included a lot of success, an accident during his sophomore year provided major adversity, "We had a pretty serious bus crash last year, and guys got hurt and couldn't play," Kispert said. "The community really rallied behind us and we got a lot of support, and it was really an emotional last couple of games to go win our first state title in 13 years or so, it was a really special moment because my brother Calvin was on the team as well, so we got to share that moment."
Kispert is widely-regarded as an excellent all-around player, and is ranked the 76th best high school prospect in the country in the 2017 class by scout.com, but he identified several areas of his game he'd like to improve before making the jump to college basketball. "I think I really need to shore up my handle, there's no possible way that you can be good enough at ball-handling. That's always something you can improve and be better at is having a tighter handle. Also, I think my mid-range game needs work as well--15-17 feet, pulling up and coming off screens, step-backs, that kind of thing--it needs a little bit of attention as well before I'm able to take the full competitive jump to college ball." And though Kispert has won two state titles, he says his goal for next year is to "Win another one. I'm looking forward to hopefully having three rings on my fingers by the time it's all said and done. Other things I want to work on is to improve more as a vocal and outspoken leader. I think I do a good job of leading by example, but sometimes there are things that need to be said rather than done, and that's what I'm looking forward to working on as well."
As Kispert begins to look ahead, he has a lot to think about. "All three of these visits gave me some really good things to chew on. They provided me really good clarity about some things. Like I really had no idea what it was like on the east coast in Indiana or Virginia or anything like that. And so, it was really good and head-clearing for me to go out there and visit, and the more I think about it, the closer I am to making a decision. I think I'm getting pretty close to honing in."