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Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert ready to go after calculated recovery

UPDATED: Sat., Aug. 12, 2017, 11:39 p.m.

Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert controls the boards during a pick-up game at Camp Goodtimes in July. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert controls the boards during a pick-up game at Camp Goodtimes in July. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Corey Kispert wasn’t the most patient patient.

The 6-foot-6 wing had surgery in February to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot, an affliction that has sidelined the NBA’s Kevin Durant and Pau Gasol and NFL receivers Dez Bryant, Julian Edelman and Julio Jones.

“Probably some of the worst four weeks of my life,” said Kispert, an incoming freshman at Gonzaga. “I like to think I put on a good mask. I followed the rules, took things slowly but inside I was burning up. That sucked.”

It was necessary because the alternative isn’t pleasant. As several of the aforementioned pros learned, patience and rest are vital to recovery, and sometimes even that isn’t enough.

Durant had three foot surgeries in six months during the 2015 season. Bryant and Edelman each required two operations. They’ve have returned to be among the best in their profession.

Kispert is hoping for smooth sailing after his Feb. 10 operation. He reached one goal – to be ready for workouts and pick-up games at Gonzaga when he arrived on July 4 for the first session of summer school.

“I’m still working on cardio a little bit, but it’s pretty much there,” said Kispert, who has returned home to the Seattle area for a few weeks before the beginning of fall semester. “I think it took me until the third practice until I felt pretty comfortable. I wasn’t huffing and puffing, just a little winded.”

Kispert has adhered to a deliberate post-surgery approach. He was on crutches for four weeks, followed by two weeks in a walking boot. About a week later, he was putting up some set shots.

His rehabilitation included strengthening his right leg. He was running, cutting and playing 5-on-5 by the middle of June.

Kispert’s outlook is buoyed by his medical team. Dr. Ed Blahouse of University of Washington Medicine performed the surgery. He specializes in foot and ankle procedures. Physical therapist Adam Shildmyer, one of Kispert’s coaches at King’s High, guided Kispert’s rehabilitation.

Healthy bone taken from Kispert’s heel replaced the fractured portion of his fifth metatarsal. Durant’s third surgery was a bone graft after he experienced persistent soreness and inflammation.

“The conventional surgery is putting in a screw that goes the length of the bone,” Kispert said. “Dr. Blahouse has had great success with this and it’s proven to be a quicker recovery time.”

The 220-pound Kispert wears a special orthotic insert in his right shoe to protect his foot and help counter “super tight ankles. I have a lot of weight coming down on that bone. I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

Kispert is an intriguing prospect, bringing size and a dependable 3-point stroke to a wing position the Zags have typically employed smaller guards such as 6-3 Jordan Mathews last season.

The Zags have options at wing with redshirt freshman Zach Norvell Jr., Kispert, 6-6 Jeremy Jones and possibly 6-8 Rui Hachimura.

“Corey has great size for a perimeter, an incredible body for a freshman,” assistant coach Brian Michaelson said. “He’s probably bouncier than people realize. The most similar guy would be a guy like Richie (Frahm). The best thing he does is he shoots it.”

Kispert’s sturdy frame should put him in the mix for playing time. He’s already one of the Zags’ strongest players. Freshmen usually require time to add muscle and bulk and often struggle against seasoned college players.

Kispert just needed to take time and allow his foot to heal.

“We were all really wise in taking this slowly and making sure I was over-recovered before I tried to do anything,” he said.

Kispert’s biggest adjustment has been to the speed of the college game.

“Everything is a lot faster,” he said. “You have to pick that up quickly or you’ll fall behind. I feel comfortable out there and I felt comfortable about the summer. I’m ready to get a crack at it in the fall.”