Behind the scenes of the Kennard decision

After returning from his official visit to Duke, Luke Kennard was ready to commit. However, his parents counseled him to take some time. So what were those subsequent conversations like? What were the reservations? And what finally solidified the decisions? We went behind the scenes to find out.

So the first question is, how are you doing now that your son has committed to Duke?

Mark Kennard, father of 2015 WF Luke Kennard: We are doing really well, just excited, we're excited, Luke's excited. I think he just thought that it was time to move on and decide, which was good. 

Luke mentioned that he was already envisioning himself committing when you guys were  there for the visit and that it grew stronger once he got home…

Yeah, when we were on the visit it just really seemed like it clicked and then a few days after we got back, he just, he had already been to the other places and so he texted me at work and said Dad, I know where I want to go to play college basketball, I want to go to Duke, that's where I want to play. So we talked for like 3, 4 days, we really talked in-depth and he was adamant that Duke was where he wanted to go and he was 100% for sure, so that's when we decided to set a date and try to make it public.

What was it like for you as a dad seeing Luke be so assured of his decision as you progressed towards announcing?

Well, I'll be honest, I was very proud, it was a proud moment and very exciting. I remember when he was just a little 1st and 2nd grader, playing, we watched a lot of basketball, I mean, we are college basketball fanatics, Duke, Kentucky, Ohio State and Michigan, North Carolina, when your son has the opportunity to play at those schools and do that, it was a very humbling and just a very proud moment when he knew he wanted to go to Duke, we were ecstatic for him.

What were the main areas of consideration during those in-depth conversations you mentioned having as a family after returning from Duke?

Well, you know, we just wanted to make sure that Luke was 100% for sure so we asked him if he was sure that he didn't want to take anymore official visits, just to make sure, are you sure you don't want to think about it for some more time. We also looked at pros and cons of different things and he was adamant, he said and we wanted to be fair to these other schools, we just went on this official visit and he already knows, that's not fair to the other schools and we tried to be as fair to the other schools, we tried to be very professional with them and i'll tell you, it was really tough telling these other schools, that was one of the toughest things we had to do. It went pretty good talking with them, I think it surprised some of them that we were deciding without going on an official visit to other schools but, it was tough, it was tough on us because we developed some really good relationships with some coaches at other universities. It was tough, but that's where Luke wanted to go and to be fair to them, we didn't want, we kinda decided Monday or Tuesday and Wednesday the NCAA's were coming up and I should have called them Wednesday or Thursday because they were getting ready to play in the NCAA Tournament, and I didn't want to that, I just didn't think that was right so we decided to wait until Sunday to call after everybody had played or they were either still in or out. 

So Sunday when was you guys touched base then with the Duke staff?

We touched base with them, maybe a few days before and Luke really wanted to tell them in person, so they made arrangements to come up yesterday(Monday) after school and they couldn't stay for the announcement, so they stayed briefly and then they left and he told them then when they were here.

Luke mentioned that you guys were there with him when he committed to Coach K, what was that like for you seeing that unfold?

Oh gosh, it was a very proud moment, a very emotional moment, it was just a very happy moment for my son to tell Coach K, I want to play for you at Duke, I want to play for you. Duke I mean, they were ecstatic, they were so excited and happy and it was just a great, happy and emotional moment to be honest with you, it's a proud moment obviously in Luke's life and also in my life and his mother's life and my daughter happened to be home, so she was there too, it was really neat.

What did Coach K and the staff say in response when Luke shared the news with them?

They were excited, they were excited just like we were. They said that they were excited to Coach Luke and that they can't wait to coach him and that he wants to play there. It was just a great moment.

You obviously knew as the announcement ceremony was going on that he was going to Duke, what was that experience like for you as a parent?

Oh, it was very humbling, it's amazing that this community supports Luke and they support sports the way they do, it's unbelievable. We go in thinking that we're going to invite family and a few friends and we'll have maybe a couple hundred people there and it turned out there were around 1000 people there, I mean, it was packed. It was just unbelievable, it was just a great ceremony that went great and then we had a little celebration party afterwords at a local pizza place and that was great, we had friends and family there, it was just a really neat and great night. 

What's the family response been like now that the announcement is official?

They are ecstatic for Luke, they are excited for him and they fully support him and everybody was so happy for him and they were just so ecstatic for him. 

Speaking of family, I wanted to ask you about the conjecture that it might have been discussed within the family that you guys as parents might consider moving to be closer to Luke if he went to Duke, can you shed any light on whether that's ever come up and is that an option you guys will examine?

You know, that's been brought up, I'll tell you that's been discussed but I will also say that it probably will not happen. It was something that his mother and I discussed and if that were to happen, we'd still just look to maybe be 2, 3 or 4 hours away from Luke and Luke likes his home town and if he plays there and if he's able to get back and see his buddies, so we'll see a lot of his games one way or the other but right now i'll say that our home will most likely be in Franklin. 

Now that the process is over, how are you looking for things to progress now that Luke is committed?

Obviously we'll talk with Duke and see if they have anything that they want Luke to do or to work on and Luke will be working with a trainer and he's going to take a couple of weeks off and then get back into it, hitting it hard with the trainer and workouts and then back into AAU. We're not sure yet on the camps he may do this summer, hopefully he'll get invited to a couple of camps and then he's playing in the Nike EYBL, so he'll traveling for at least 4-5 weeks for that and he did get invited to the U18 USA Basketball Team Tryout which is not until June, so he'll be going to that and hopefully he'll be able to attend a few other camps. 

It's interesting you mentioned the Nike EYBL because it looks like at the Hampton, VA EYBL that Luke's team is going to be matched up against Malik Newman's team—what's your thoughts on that matchup potentially happening if the schedule holds?

You know, it'd be awesome, obviously we like playing, Luke wants to play against the best and obviously, that'll be a fun thing to watch, it'll be exciting and fun and he wants that challenge of playing against the best and with this summer, obviously we will be playing against the best and we're excited about it. 

In closing Mark, as the parent of Luke, did you have any message you want to share with Duke fans who are going to be watching your son play in the near future?

Well we really appreciate everything and they obviously treated Luke great there and we're looking forward to being a part of that craziness down there and to be a part of the family. 


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