Duke

Luke Kennard, Ohio's Mr. Basketball, signs with Blue Devils

Luke Kennard is a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who averaged 40 points, 10.4 rebounds, four assists and two steals as a high school junior last season in Ohio. He has committed to play at Duke.
Luke Kennard is a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who averaged 40 points, 10.4 rebounds, four assists and two steals as a high school junior last season in Ohio. He has committed to play at Duke. The Cincinnati Enquirer

Franklin boys' basketball coach Brian Bales could tell Duke was the right place for Luke Kennard last season.

Bales attended the North Carolina at Duke game with Kennard last March and could tell with his star player's mannerisms that he had found a home.

"Just the culture down there - it's a very tight-knit group of basketball players," Bales said. "Not to sound cliché but the academic part of it (too). He's into his academics."

Wednesday was all academic on National Signing Day. Kennard, the 6-foot-6 guard who was Ohio Mr. Basketball last season, verbally committed to the Blue Devils on March 24.

But, Wednesday night he made it official by signing his National Letter of Intent at 6:45 p.m. at the Franklin High School cafeteria in front of family, friends, classmates and other community well-wishers.

"I've been so anxious and ready to get it over with officially," Kennard said. "Saying I'm an official Duke Blue Devil - I'm really excited about that and the opportunity I have in front of me."

Duke assistant coach Jeff Capel announced Kennard's signing on Twitter shortly after 7 p.m.

Kennard, 18, was the second player from the 2015 class to officially join the Duke men's basketball recruiting class on Wednesday.

Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) center Chase Jeter signed his National Letter of Intent earlier in the night before Kennard followed.

Kennard, the reigning Associated Press Ohio Mr. Basketball from his junior season, averaged 40 points, 10.4 rebounds, four assists and two steals last season.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said he's also impressed with Kennard's character, which will be a significant asset to the program.

"I like everything about Luke Kennard," Krzyzewski said. "I like him as a young man, love his family, love his town. There's not a thing I don't like about him, and then he's a great player."

Kennard said Krzyzewski told him he could play the one, two or three. Kennard said he prefers the two or three.

"He wants me to be a playmaker," Kennard said. "He wants playmakers on the court. He really likes shooters so he told me how I would fit in there."

Kennard also won the Gatorade Ohio Boys' Basketball Player of the Year as a junior. He is an early favorite from Southwest Ohio to be selected to the McDonald's All American Game in April in Chicago.

"What I would like to see Luke continue to work on is his leadership," Krzyzewski said.

"I think he's a natural leader. And be more vocal in his leadership. As the best player and someone who sees the game so well, his acknowledgment of what his teammates are doing, both positively and negatively, is extremely important and things that he could say to them to help them. We've talked about it a lot. He wants to do that and just progress."

Kennard won a gold medal this summer for the USA Basketball Under-18 national team. He could be selected for the prestigious Nike Hoop Summit in Portland in April.

Kennard has an opportunity this season to be the sixth player in Ohio to win at least two Mr. Basketball Awards in the state. The award started in 1988. (LeBron James is the only three-time winner).

Franklin begins the season Dec. 9 against visiting Oxford Talawanda.

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