As a parent, what's it like to have a who's who of college coaches coming in for visits?
Mark Kennard: You know, we feel as blessed as Luke does. We're very thankful for the opportunity, and it's just been a lot of fun to be honest. Luke's worked hard to get to where he's at and obviously he's got to keep working to keep getting better, but it's been a great experience.
What are some of the things you've learned from and about the coaches who have come in?
Well, a lot of them are normal people to be honest and they are very sincere. All of the ones we've met are very sincere and honest, it's great to see that and I think the sincerity, they care about kids and that makes you feel good about the process because you know they will be taken care of. It's just been a great experience to meet these icons of basketball, it's kinda, I don't know if we really realized what and who and how and all that, it's just unbelievable, its' been an awesome and fun ride to be honest.
Can you update me on who specifically has been visiting Luke and you guys, either in your home or at Luke's school?
Last Friday Coach Matta from Ohio State, Coach Beilein from Michigan and Coach Williams from North Carolina were all at Luke's football game. Then yesterday Coach K and his assistants were at the school to watch Luke practice football a little bit and then we met with them afterwords and had a great conversation with them.
Was the Duke staff the only staff that came with more than one coach or were there others?
At the game we couldn't talk to the coaches, but at the game, Coach Matta had Coach Boals there and Coach Williams had Coach McGrath there at the game with him at the football game.
Does sending more than one coach resonate in any way with you?
It means a lot, as a parent it makes you proud, but you are also proud for the community, we want to the community to be proud because they've been great to Luke and we want them to enjoy this process too. It makes you proud and to be thankful for what the good Lord has blessed Luke with these talents.
What's it do for coaches who showed up at a function like a football game just to recruit your son as a basketball player?
It amazes me, I'm thankful they are there, I appreciate it, we always told them that we understand they are very interested in Luke but are also very busy and to be honest, I think they really enjoyed the game and enjoyed our community, our community really supports our sports team, it's a great place.
You and Luke were recently on Kentucky's campus for their Alumni Game, what was it like having the Kentucky "experience"?
Well, at that time, we just, all we did was the watch the Alumni Game which was really neat, I mean, all the pros were there, they obviously have great players that Coach Cal has developed. It was a fun game to watch, it was more like an all star game obviously. We've been there before and toured the campus and the facilities, it's obviously a first class program and institution.
Did you guys interact with the coaching staff either after the game or the next day at Kentucky?
No, we really didn't interact with anybody except for an assistant coach when we went to the game, that was really it. We didn't have the opportunity to talk to them.
Luke mentioned you guys got to meet Coach Calipari the last time you were on campus and it sounds like he put the hard sell on Luke in the meeting, telling him if he wanted to commit, they were ready to take him, when you were there, how did you respond to that pitch in the meeting?
Well, Coach Cal, at no time did he put any pressure on us, he just said when Luke is ready to do this, if he's ready to go there, we're ready to take him. He kept saying that he really wanted to coach my son, he thinks he could be a special player and you know, when he said that, it makes you feel good. It makes you feel like you want to go ahead and commit and I'm sitting there and I'm thinking maybe we need to, but it's going to be up to Luke and it's going to be a tough decision for him, he's got a great opportunity wherever he goes. Coming from Coach Calipari it was really hard because he's one of the special coaches in college basketball.
Do you think it was really hard in that moment for Luke to not commit?
Yeah I think it's hard for him to not to, but I also think it's been hard not to with other schools too. I mean, we've talked to Coach Cal, we've talked to Coach Matta, Coach Beilein, Coach K, Coach Williams, I mean, Coach Pitino, I could keep going, I've talked to Florida, Michigan State, we've talked to a lot of them. It's really hard I think for Luke with a lot of them, that's why you have to look at the total picture about what he wants and what program fits him and what program he fits. That's something that's really we gotta sit down and talk about. I think he wants to visit some of these schools and then I think he'll be more ready.
Are there any new school visits that are actively being planned right now?
Well no, not really, we haven't, we haven't really had a confirmed plan for any of them, I think he can take his official visits in January/February timeframe, I'm sure we'll take some officials then hopefully. This is kinda what we're talking about, it would be nice to have this all done by the May/June timeframe so he can enjoy his summer and senior year and then start to continue to get better and not worry about this.
Do you think it's important to take all five official visits?
I think that come January or February, we may, if we do not need to take all five, we won't take all of them. I think there's some schools he wants to visit and we narrowed the list down to 10 and I think he can narrow it down to six to eight schools right now. You really got to get to a top three or four when deciding what the official visits will be and I think when Luke gets down it, if he only wants to take two or three official visits, that's all we'll take then. I don't want to lead any coach on, I want to be truthful with them, that's what we want to do.
Have there already been conversations with any schools where you've indicated you're probably not going to be considering you moving forward?
No, I think with the top six or eight, it's pretty wide open, I really think there's an opportunity with those schools with Luke.
Who are those top six or eight programs?
I should probably say he narrowed it down to a top 10 or12 but when I listen to him, it sounds like he's got a top six. I say that but I think there's a couple more that if they start getting in the mix more, they've been calling more recently, so we'll see. I'll tell you this, I'd like him to narrow it down even more here, very shortly.
Following up, can you share what those new schools are that have been getting "more in the mix"?
Well, can I pass on that right now? Some have called, and we'll leave it at that, they are going to come by potentially, but I'll leave it at that.
These new schools…are they the ones you usually see associated with Luke on Twitter or in the various databases?
No I think we've talked with them and they have probably been mentioned but, there's, again, I need to sit down with Luke and get his thoughts. We haven't sat down recently and really talked about getting it narrowed down to six or so. At one time we narrowed it down to 10 or 12 in the early summer. If I sat down with him now, I think he could narrow it down further.
It sounds like Luke is kinda naturally narrowing things down to this top programs…
I would say yes, that's accurate. I will say there are a couple others that could get in the mix.
There's a lot of people who put the conjecture out there that with Kentucky's background with the family interests and their recruitment of Luke now, that Kentucky is going to be very tough to beat…
Well, I don't think that's accurate. I think Kentucky is definitely one of the top schools on the list, no doubt about it. Coach Calipari, Coach K, Coach Matta, Coach Williams, those are all awesome coaches, but to say that he's a lock to Kentucky…I wouldn't say that. I would say they are one of the top schools on his list and he really likes Coach Calipari, and he really likes his staff, but to say he's a lock, I don't think you could say that.
Duke's another school mentioned prominently in this recruitment, from your perspective, how do you think Luke feels about Coach K and Duke especially now that you've been recruited by them?
I definitely think Luke does have strong feelings for them. I think they feel like Luke fits that program, fits that mold and Coach K would let him play, I definitely think Luke has some strong feelings for Coach K and Duke.
How do you and your family feel about Coach K and the Duke program?
We really have strong feelings for them too. We have strong feelings for Kentucky too, and these other schools, but meeting with Coach K, he's obviously one of the best coaches in college basketball.
Can you recap the recent visit?
He told us about Duke and he told us what he thinks about Luke and how they see him playing at Duke and how Luke fits in there. I think they believe he's a really great scorer who can score inside and outside there. They'd let him be a player there and not just put him in a spot. They wouldn't have him be a robot, they'd let him express himself and do different things. That's one thing you see with Coach K teams, he lets his players play.
What was your reaction to that discussion?
I think it was sincere. I think Coach K is a family guy and he's a funny guy. I think he's a very sincere person and I think he was very truthful with us as all coaches have been.
Did he offer any dates to consider for a campus visit, either unofficial or official?
No, we're going to have to look at that, we definitely want to visit Duke, we haven't come up with a plan yet, I'm sure we'll take an official visit there.
Is it a prerequisite that Luke visits a program unofficially before considering them for an official visit?
No, absolutely not.
It sounds like you guys have a plan, is there anything additional you can share regarding a potential commitment timetable?
We're going to take it day by day and again, Luke is going to be making the decision, but I could see him wanting to decide before the end of his junior year. In fact, that'll probably be the end of May, in fact, if we get done with it by end of April, that would be great too. It's going to be a tough decision for him, but we want it to be on his timeline, we want him to be comfortable.
Some players really like to lean on their parents for guidance on how they feel about schools and when they want to wrap up their process, is that something you foresee happening?
Yeah, I think he'll do that. Luke's got a pretty good head on his shoulders, he's a very humble kid, he really is and I think that's where his mother and I are more proud of, just the way he conducts himself, we want him to be a great role model in his community.