Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert, an Edmonds native, brings the ball up the court during a game against Saint Mary’s on Feb. 29, 2020, in Spokane. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert, an Edmonds native, brings the ball up the court during a game against Saint Mary’s on Feb. 29, 2020, in Spokane. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Edmonds native Kispert will test NBA draft waters

The King’s alum and Gonzaga forward won’t hire an agent and could possibly return to the Bulldogs.

By Jim Meehan / The Spokesman-Review

SPOKANE — Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert is chasing his dream and keeping the option open to return for his senior season.

Kispert has entered his name in the NBA draft, but doesn’t plan on hiring an agent, even though that’s no longer a requirement if a player ultimately chooses to come back to school. A rules change last spring permits early-entry players to hire a certified agent during the draft process while maintaining the option of returning to school.

Kispert, an Edmonds native and King’s High School alum who was The Herald’s 2016 Boys Basketball Player of the Year, posted his announcement Thursday on his twitter account with the caption “Dream chasing.”

“After talking with the Gonzaga coaching staff and my family, I have decided to go through the NBA draft evaluation process without hiring an agent,” Kispert said. “It’s always been my dream to play in the NBA and going without an agent allows me to see where I stand. If the evaluations tell me I need to elevate my game further, I would be thrilled to return to Gonzaga and play for Zag Nation.”

The 6-foot-7, 220-pound Kispert generally falls in the second-round/free-agent range on most mock drafts and top prospects lists. He’s rated No. 47 on ESPN’s top 100 and No. 63 in CBSsports.com’s top 75, which would put him in the second-round area. He didn’t make NBCsports.com’s top 40 and wasn’t listed in two-round mock drafts by nbadraft.net or nbadraftroom.com.

More relevant information will come from the NBA advisory committee’s draft evaluation and via the Gonzaga coaching staff’s discussions with NBA executives.

The predraft process is essentially on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. The draft is scheduled for June 25, but there has been a push to move it to Aug. 1, at the earliest. If the schedule doesn’t change, NBA teams might not have an opportunity to bring in players for workouts or see them at the NBA combine from May 21-24.

Kispert was one of five finalists for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award. He led Gonzaga in minutes (33.0 per game) and made 3-pointers (78). He was first among rotation regulars at 43.8% behind the arc and hit 81% at the free-throw line.

Kispert was first-team All-West Coast Conference and made the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s All-District IX team. He has earned WCC Academic All-Conference honors the last two years. He was named the DI-AAA Athletic Directors Association men’s basketball scholar-athlete of the year for D-I programs that don’t sponsor football.

Kispert started all 33 games for the Zags (31-2), projected as the top seed in the West before the NCAA tournament was canceled to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Kispert typically played wing but filled in capably at the ‘4’ with teammates battling injuries. Gonzaga’s options at guard/wing could include rising junior Joel Ayayi, rising sophomores Anton Watson and Martynas Arlauskas, grad transfer Aaron Cook, and incoming freshmen Julian Strawther and Dominick Harris.

Ayayi and forward Filip Petrusev haven’t announced if they will return next season or submit their names for the NBA draft. The deadline to declare is Saturday night. The deadline for early entrants to remove their name from the draft is June 3.

“Since the day I stepped foot on campus, I have grown so much as a person and as a player, and I thank God every day for GU,” Kispert said. “Thank you to Coach (Mark) Few, the entire GU coaching staff, along with the most amazing fans in the country for their support with this decision.”

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