Corey Kispert knows what it's like to play with some elite college basketball talent.
In Kispert's four years at Gonzaga he lost a total of 12 games all while playing alongside future NBA players like Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura. He knows what it's like to compete against the best of the best day after day. But this past season got to play with someone he calls "special," someone like Jalen Suggs.
When the Toronto Raptors jumped up to No. 4 in the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night all eyes turned to Suggs, the 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, do-it-all guard out of Gonzaga. Assuming Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, and Jalen Green are off the board when Toronto's pick rolls around, Suggs seems like the obvious pick for the Raptors and it's not hard to see why.
"He plays the game the right way," Kispert said of Suggs. "That's one of the things that I was the most impressed with him coming into Gonzaga and the way he carried himself and the way he cared about his teammates and others. The way he learned the game. he was an unbelievable learner for a guy his age."
Suggs is by all accounts a winner. He posted a 31-1 record last season, leading the Bulldogs to the NCAA Finals with an incredible game-winning three-pointer against UCLA to send Gonzaga into the finals.
On the court, he's a two-way player, the kind the Raptors have traditionally loved in the mold of Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet.
"Suggs makes the kind of winning plays you see out of guys like Kyle Lowry," said Wesley Brown, an independent NBA scout. "He has the potential to be a bigger more athletic Kyle Lowry that can carry the primary scoring load for a good NBA team."
While Suggs' offensive creation could use some improvement, his playmaking and passing are exceptional. Part of that comes from years playing quarterback in high school, Kispert said, where Suggs was ranked a three-star dual-threat quarter at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis.
"It felt like every time my hands were ready the ball was there and I was ready to shoot," Kispert said. "It's true when they talk about the comparison with quarterback and how that goes to the basketball floor like he's able to see stuff before it happens. Even at a young age, he made some really mature decisions and mature plays for us throughout the season."
In most other years a player of Suggs' caliber would be in the discussion for the first overall selection when the draft rolls around. This year, however, the depth of talent at the top of the draft may push Suggs right into Toronto's lap. If it does, he's the kind of player who could make an immediate impact for the franchise, even as a rookie.
"Whatever team ends up drafting him is going to be really lucky because they're going to get a guy who's going to change their organization for the better," Kispert said.