After a junior season in which Franklin's Luke Kennard scored a state-best 41 points per game en route to being named Ohio's Mr. Basketball, the talented wing announced this evening that he'd committed to Coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils over Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan and others. Let's take a closer look at Luke Kennard.
For a player that is arguably the best in Ohio, regardless of class, there aren't too many weaknesses to Kennard's game. As the junior combo-guard was the primary scorer for Franklin all season long, Kennard showed his many talents offensively. However, as we have seen with Duke's shocking loss to Mercer, and Kansas' early exit to Stanford, offense isn't the only thing that matters.
Shooting range. Long ago on the AAU circuit, it was Kennard's deep shooting range that initially caught the eyes of scouts and talent evaluators all across the country. As the 6'5 Kennard is more than capable of pulling up from anywhere on the hardwood, that skill alone has made him a whole lot to handle from a defensive perspective.
Elite scoring ability. Most noted by Kennard's average of 41 points per game in the 2013-14 season, the 6'5 Franklin guard is one of the most elite scorers in the nation. Getting a chance to see Kennard in person at Flyin' To The Hoop in January, I was amazed with his performance in a close loss to North Carolina commit Justin Jackson and Houston HCYA. Scoring a game-high 38 points in that contest, Kennard scored in a variety of ways, pulling up for deep threes, attacking the basket and drawing fouls, and hitting an assortment of difficult mid-range jump shots. Going for 50 or more points three times this season, Kennard did all of this while shooting higher than 50 percent from the field, 42 percent from three, and 85 percent at the line. As Kennard has taken his scoring ability to the next level, the 6'5 junior has developed into way more than just a dead-eye shooter.
Versatility. One of the more undervalued pieces to Kennard's game is his versatility. Listed as a shooting guard, Kennard handles the majority of ball-handling duties for Franklin, almost operating as a point-forward, as the junior averaged 10 rebounds and four assists per game on top of his staggering scoring average. With the ability to play up to three positions, Kennard will be a shooting guard in college, but is more than capable of filling any role in which he is needed.
Ball-handling. As I just mentioned, Kennard is an excellent ball-handler that is rarely fazed by swarming on-ball pressure. As opposing defenses threw an assortment at looks and defensive sets at the junior this season, Kennard was always able to adjust and maintain his high level of play. One of the key reasons for that is Kennard's able to handle the rock. Matched up vs. Jackson at Flyin' To The Hoop, Kennard did a lot of his damage offensively by attacking the basket. In order to be a quality slasher, one must be able to handle the ball with strength, and Kennard does just that. Handling Franklin's ball-handling duties, Kennard is great with the ball, and is able to attack the basket and finish with either hand, something most, but not all elite prospects are capable of.
Fearlessness. Franklin's quarterback on the gridiron on Friday nights, Kennard has shown throughout the course of his athletic career to be a fearless competitor. If Kennard can stand in the pocket and deliver a bullet across the middle in the face of pressure, nothing should faze the 6'5 junior on the hardwood, and nothing does. In two matchups with Jackson at Flyin' To The Hoop the past two years, Kennard has put on amazing displays against the lengthy 5-star UNC commit. Sharing the floor with VJ King, Kipper Nichols and Ohio State commit AJ Harris on the AAU circuit, Kennard's had some of his best performance against other elite competition across the country, and has never been one to back down to a challenge.
Strength. Although Kennard is a slender-built 180-pound wing, the Franklin junior is one of the stronger scorers across the state. Bullying defenders on the drive, Kennard finishes through contact, and shows great body-control around the rim. When defenders guard Kennard close to prevent him from shooting long-range jump shots, the wing is great at muscling his way to the basket for points.
Lateral quickness. Albeit being a great all-around athlete, Kennard isn't the quickest laterally. This small, but significant deficiency hurts Kennard's effectiveness defensively.
Explosiveness. While Kennard is an amazing scorer, the 6'5 junior doesn't have elite level athleticism, which affects his explosiveness. While there are no major flaws in Kennard's game, his minor lack of explosion is something to note.
Before Kennard announces at 7:45 p.m. ET where he will attend college, take a look at some highlights of the junior below:
Below are highlights from Kennard's career-high 59-point game in February: