Hometown heroes dancing in the tournament

Washington state continues to prove why it’s a basketball breeding ground. With homegrown talent littered through the NCAA, we wanted to highlight some local players taking their game to Indianapolis to play on college basketball’s biggest stage.

Corey Kispert – Gonzaga

Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert earned first-team All-America honors from Sporting News and Sports Illustrated in 2021. Kispert led the West Coast Conference in scoring (19.3 points) and was named the conference player of the year. Before he was a Zag, Kispert starred on the court in Shoreline at King’s High School.

Anton Watson -- Gonzaga

In his second season with Gonzaga, Anton Watson saw his minutes and production double on the court. The Spokane native and Gonzaga Prep grad averaged 7.3 points for the undefeated Bulldogs this season. The Bulldogs are just the fifth team since 1976 to enter the tournament without a loss on their record.

Emmitt Matthews Jr. -- West Virginia

In his third season at West Virginia, Emmitt Matthews Jr. provided a steady punch in the starting lineup for the Mountaineers. Matthews starred on the court at Woodrow Wilson High School, where he finished his career as the all-time winningest player with 80 wins.

Alphonso Anderson – Utah State

Tacoma’s very own Alphonso Anderson was named 2021 Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year. The Garfield product provided a much-needed boost off the bench for Utah State, averaging 7 points per game in his senior season.

Jaquori Mclaughlin – UC Santa Barbara

Former Peninsula High School star Jaquori Mclaughlin capped off his junior season by being named the Big West Player of the Year. Mclaughlin led the Gauchos in scoring and was ranked among the top players in the conference in assists (second), scoring (fourth), and steals (sixth).

Jacob & Tanner Groves – Eastern Washington

Is there anything better than taking the court with your family? I’ll wait… The Shadle Park graduates helped the Eagles punch their ticket to the tournament, with a combined 29 points and 17 rebounds in the Conference Championship game against Montana State.

Casson Rouse – Eastern Washington

Rouse has played a key reserved role for this Eagles team. The 2018 Timberline High School graduate started the first 5 games of the season, averaging 7 points per in that stretch.

Steele Venters – Eastern Washington

The Pride of Ellensburg High School has played a reserved role for this Eagles team, but his HS stats prove he can make an impact. As a senior, Venters averaged 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Jordan Veening – Eastern Washington

Jordan Veening graduated from Nooksack Valley HS in 2018. Veening averaged 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists as a senior to earn All-Northwest Athletic Conference honors.

KIRO 7 is your home as we dance through the NCAA tournament. After each day of games, tune into Gameday Live with Chris Francis. We’ll break down all the buzzer beaters and bracket busters until the nets get cut down. KIRO 7′s Gary Horcher will also join us to track Gonzaga’s path through the tournament.