Kennard reflects on process and decision

It's been a while since he committed, and now that he's settled into the idea of becoming a Blue Devil, Luke Kennard sat down with TDD to discuss the decision making process, the visit that sealed the deal, and where he sees his college career heading over the next few years.

So it's a few days removed from your commitment to Duke Luke as we do this interview, how are you feeling?

Luke Kennard: It's pretty nice, just to be able to get it out of the way and now I can enjoy it.

What was it like for you seeing all the people who showed for your announcement?

Man, i was actually kind of surprised, there were so many people there at my school, but it was great to have so much support from the community.

There was a report that you actually met with Coach K and an assistant the day of your announcement, can you confirm that?

Yeah, they actually came in right after school and then they got out of there about 4:30 or 5 o'clock. But yeah, i actually asked them to come in and they did and I saw them right then.

What led you to want to have them visit on the day of your announcement?

I really just wanted to tell them in person, i thought that would be a neat thing to do instead of on the phone and they said that no matter what happened in the Tournament, win or lose, they were going to come. It was just a neat thing for me and my family to experience to tell them in person.

How did the discussion progress with the Duke staff once you were all together?

I kinda joked with them at first, i told them well, I brought you guys here to tell you that you were in my Top 3 and then we all started laughing and then I told them that you guys are at the top and that I wanted to tell you that I want to become a Duke Blue Devil and I told Coach K that i wanted to play for them and they all got excited and Coach K jumped up and hugged everybody and then it went on from there. But yeah, it was a pretty neat moment to experience, it was very special. 

What were your thoughts as you were going through the ceremony leading up to making your announcement public that you were committed to Duke?

Oh man, the nerves kept building and building but i kept telling myself, i was kinda anxious to see what everybody thought and how they reacted, but i was kinda ready to let everybody know what i had known for the last week and a half really and it was just hard keeping it in. I was really excited to get it out and let everybody know.

What triggered you from considering different schools to knowing in the last week and a half that you wanted to commit?

Honestly it happened during the visit. When i got there, the coaches, they were great and Duke, it's just one of the best programs in the nation and Coach K, he's the best coach in the nation. Also, being around the players, just the whole campus feel is unbelievable and just their program and the way i would fit in there, their style of play is how i want to play and you can just tell it's a real family oriented group of guys there in the basketball program. It's a big stage with a hometown feel and that's what i really like about it.

Going into the visit, what kind of questions did you have for the staff and about Duke?

Probably the style of play and how'd i fit in there and i didn't even have to ask him that, they talked with me as soon as I got there, breakfast the very next morning he told me all about that. I had talked with pretty much all the players about why they chose Duke and how it's been for them so far. I talked with the freshman and asked them what they thought about their first year there and whether it was hard to get together with the teammates and they all said that everybody is great there and that they accepted them just like that. That really triggered me right there to be able to be a part of something special, that was great. 

What kind of details did Coach K give you at that breakfast about how you would fit in as a player at Duke?

He said that giving me a position wouldn't be doing me a favor, he said i would be just be recruiting you for one position and he said that he doesn't believe that's who i am. He said that I should just be a playmaker there because that's who i am, i can play all different positions and be a playmaker because that's who i am, i'm able to make plays. 

How did you react to that vision when he shared it with you?

That really stuck with me the whole time that i was there, i just kinda pictured myself both during the practice and during the game against North Carolina that i was like, this is where i fit and i had that picture in my mind.

As you interacted with the players during the visit, anything from those interactions that caught and kept your attention?

I got with Marshall Plumlee and I went to class with him and he was telling me all about Coach K with not only does he teach you everything you need to learn about the game of basketball, but as a person too, all the things in life that you need to learn, Coach K teaches you. Then i talked with Rasheed Sulaimon and Jabari Parker and others about how they've progressed over the years that Rasheed has been there as well as Jabari in his first year. They were talking about how Coach K and his coaches, they have improved their skills as players in pretty much a short period of time and as people as well.

Did Coach K discuss how he sees you improving during your time in the Duke program?

Yeah, he just said that he thinks i can be a really good player and a fan favorite at Duke. He just wants me to be a playmaker and he thinks that can take me a really long way for my future career. 

We saw the pictures of you interacting with the Cameron Crazies at the game, what was that experience like for you?

That was exciting. Just being able to be a part of that atmosphere, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity and anybody would probably love to be in the position i was blessed to be in by being there. It was just unbelievable to be a part of, the students, they are called Crazies for a reason as they were pretty crazy. It was really special to be a part of and i am VERY excited about playing in front of them and the whole fan base there.

With your parents there with you on the visit, what were the conversations centering around when you guys re-connected during the course of the visit?

We got to the hotel and when we there, we were all like, Wow, i didn't tell them there that i wanted to go there, i told them like a couple days after we got back but I kinda felt it then and they did too and we talked about how this is an unbelievable place and pretty much how could you pass this up.

That sounds like you might have been ready already to commit during the visit…

Yeah, i was getting there but you know, i wanted to come back and talk to my parents about it and then i just knew after thinking about it a couple of days, i knew it was the best place for me and the best fit for me. I kinda felt it when i was there.

What were the family discussions like after the visit as you were growing in your certainty that you wanted to commit to Duke?

My parents, they asked me, are you 100% for sure and I was like, Yes and they asked me if i wanted to take anymore visits and i told them nope, i know where i'm going and that was it. They just told me that they were proud of me and i'm excited and we started talking about how to tell the coaches. 

More curious than anything, was the distance factor for you and being away from your family as big a factor in your evaluation of schools as was discussed?

I heard that and i really don't think so. Coming into the recruiting process, i don't think being too far away from home would have been too much of a factor with my decision. They will be able to come down quite a bit so, i don't think that was as big a deal as everybody made that out to be. 

Now that you are committed, are you going to be one of those guys that talks to other guys that Duke is recruiting to join you?

If there's some guys being recruited by them and if i know about it, then i'll definitely try to get some guys to come that i would like to play with me.

Last question, is there any message you want to send to your future fans now that you are committed?

I just like to say that i can't wait to be there, i'm excited to play in front of them and to play for Duke and I'm ready to win a national championship there.


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