It didn't take long for Luke Kennard to establish himself at Scout.com. He performed impressively at the 2012 Flyin' To The Hoop, when he was only a freshman. He then scintillated as a sophomore at the Beach Ball Classic, making himself a national commodity.
He hit the road as a rising junior during the 2013 travel season and enjoyed a fantastic summer, carving a place for himself among the nation's top 20 prospects. His offer list expanded to include some of the nation's best programs: Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisville, Michigan, Florida, Ohio State and others.
Ultimately, however, he chose to leave the Midwest and will play for Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils in college. Kennard fits the mold of highly successful Duke wings of the past and will spend his senior season attempting to win a state title while also competing for a berth in the various postseason all-star games next spring.
Ranked No. 23 in the Class of 2015, he was less consistent this past spring and summer than he had been previously, but he finished his 2014 travel season on a high note and is primed for another dynamic high school campaign.
While Kennard is more than just a shooter, make no mistake: He is a shooter. The southpaw wields a smooth stroke past the three-point arc, knocking down long jump shots thanks to touch, follow through and rhythm.
|For a high school player, Kennard is close to being a finished product|
But though his shooting may provide the basis of his offense, he doesn't just stand around waiting to receive a pass and launch. He's a fine ballhandler and a truly excellent passer who catches defenders off-guard due to his frequent use of ball fakes.
Meanwhile, he possesses a nice mid-range game that flows effectively from his dribble into jumpers from the elbow.
Kennard carries a solid frame and has the potential to become a very strong guard. He's also tough, intelligent and clutch: He has buried critical shots in a variety of settings and certainly could fulfill that role at Duke as well.
He's also an above-average straightline athlete who finishes in the open court with slams and who's plenty speedy transition from one end of the floor to the other.
He's absolutely deadly from the foul stripe — 90 percent on the EYBL circuit — and contributed a solid five rebounds per game as well.
Albeit a tall guard at 6-5, Kennard's wingspan is pedestrian and thus functionally he's shorter than his height would indicate. He's also just average in terms of lateral quickness and first step, and for that reason he doesn't project as a slasher.
He also may struggle in certain defensive matchups, particularly in Duke's pressure style. Surprisingly enough, his jump shot also is a bit of a concern due to his low release point. It's easier to challenge than would be ideal.
Kennard's numbers also were ordinary in 2014 with the King James Shooting Stars, though in fairness that team featured some pieces that didn't fit well together and everyone's production appeared to suffer as a result. That helps explain why he shot only 42 percent from the field en route to his 13 points per game.
Kennard is a very polished young athlete. He already possesses the mental readiness for ACC competition along with impressive skill, and thus Duke won't need to wait on him long to become ready.
That said, he'll enter a program that's loaded on the perimeter — just about always the case at Duke — so he may need a year or two before he's able to challenge for a starting position.
Thinking long-term, there are legitimate questions about his upside that Kennard must answer. For college, however, there's no reason to doubt that what he brings now — shooting, handling, passing, intelligence, unselfishness, toughness — will migrate effectively to Durham.
Though not as lethal a shooter as former Duke star J.J. Redick, Kennard reminds of Redick physically and possesses similar overall balance.
Shooters carry a great deal of value at all levels, and the Class of 2015 is fairly weak in that regard, making Kennard even more of a pivotal addition to the Devils. He boasts a tremendous primary asset with very strong secondary virtues that complement his all-around game, and he has the chance to become an impact player even at an elite program.