One of Gonzaga’s most underrated players ever is coming back and is out for blood. While being surrounded by stars last season, Corey Kispert was often unable to find his niche within the team. Even though he was a starter, he did not have much of a chance to showcase his skills and potential leadership abilities - that is about to change.
With Killian Tillie sidelined for the present moment after undergoing knee surgery, expect to see Kispert leading the team with both talent and experience. Kispert can be relied on to do anything for the team and is arguably the Bulldogs’ best all-around player. Corey hardly ever received the media or NBA attention that his teammates did in the past, but his contributions do not go unnoticed by the team.
After last season’s 83-71 win over the Baylor Bears in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Brandon Clarke praised Kispert: “He’s a really big guard. He’s a combo guard that can shoot it, that can drive the ball, that can block shots at the rim. If you have a guard who can do that, that’s going to really help the team.” In that contest, he played 35 minutes, scored 16 points and grabbed 7 rebounds - easily one of his best games in a Gonzaga uniform. Such a performance caused Mark Few to single him out as his personal pick for player of the game, “The things we asked him to do — rebounding-wise, in defense and then to step up to make those big shots was huge,” he commented.
Corey started in all but one game last season, averaged 8.3 points and 4.1 rebounds. However, one of the most important things that he accomplished was solidifying his place on the team. During his freshman year, he sprained his ankle and had to sit out for 11 days. That allowed Zach Norvell Jr. to grab Kispert’s spot on the starting lineup and there he remained for the duration of the season. Corey admitted that it messed with his head a bit and affected his confidence. In contrast, his sophomore year was an upgrade from the previous season since he was able to make more contributions. In his own words: “Being healthy the whole year really helps. To solidify my place in the lineup, from a peace of mind standpoint, is huge.”
It’s going to be really exciting and interesting to see what Kispert can achieve his junior year. He’s an insanely talented player who has the ability to truly lead this squad.