King’s High School on Wednesday honored one of its graduates who has reached the top of his profession, in a moving ceremony celebrating the accomplishments of Corey Kispert.
Kispert, an Edmonds native who played high school basketball at King’s, had his high school jersey retired by the school. Kispert, who earned first-team All-America honors at Gonzaga University, is now playing in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the Washington Wizards.
His No. 24 jersey, resplendent in the schools colors of red and white, was unveiled high above the Knights’ home court as the crowd in a packed Mike Martin Gymnasium roared its approval.
Kispert led King’s to consecutive Class 1A state championships in 2015 and 2016, and scored 28.7 points in three games during the Knights’ state title run of 2016.
His next stop was Gonzaga, where he played four seasons for the Bulldogs. In his senior year of 2020-21, Kispert was a preseason first-team Associated Press All-America choice, and was also named a first-team All-American as Gonzaga went 31-1 and advanced to the NCAA championship game.
Kispert was the 15th overall choice in the 2021 NBA draft by the Wizards, where he is playing in his third season. On Thursday, he was back with the Wizards as they met the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland.
On Wednesday, Kispert was described by former teammates, coaches, school administrators and current Wizards teammates, staffers and coaches (via video) as a tenacious-but-humble player who has always had the best work ethic on any court.
When asked Wednesday if he could guess how many hours he’d spent in the King’s gym, Kispert said “quite a few. I’m bad at ballpark numbers, but yeah — this is home. Thousands.”
Kispert emphasized that — without exception — the competition he has faced at every level has served as a motivating factor.
“I know it helped me in the long run to play against teams that were so well-coached and knew what they were doing, especially guarding me,” Kispert said. “I was able to add things to the toolbox that I’ve been able to use.”
That competitive element seldom takes a day off, Kispert said.
On “a daily basis, a constant learning curve, and I’ve not even figured it out yet, it’s not even close,” Kispert said. “Still learning, still growing — the progression’s still going.”