Catching Up With Luke Kennard

Luke Kennard is signed to play at Duke next season. However, before he enrolls in Durham the five star wing has his final season of high school ball and then the various all-star events. We sat down for an update on that, how long he plans to play at Duke, and much more.

What are your thoughts on watching this year’s Duke team so far?

Mark Kennard, father of Duke commit, Luke Kennard: Yeah, they are fun to watch, it looks like they have some really good team chemistry. They’ve got some depth and I just really like watching them play, especially since they are our team too with Luke going there next year. We like seeing how they are doing and they obviously are doing really well right now and they are just a fun team to watch. The way Coach K has them playing, it’s just fun to watch them.

Luke’s season just started, correct?

Yeah we played a game Tuesday and then last night, so it’s the first week and we have three games next week.

Two questions with Luke and his school team if I may…#1, what’s Luke’s role this year on the team and #2, what’s it like for you as a dad watching him play his final season of high school basketball?

As far as the team goes, we’ve got some guys that have really improved that I think makes us a better team than last year. Our team chemistry is even better than last year and we’re really moving the ball great. Luke is obviously scoring a bit and he’s passing a lot too, getting guys involved. It’s a better team and we have some big guys that are helping us and we have some new guys on the team that have been playing well and helping us, which is really nice. We have some great chemistry going. Luke is playing the point and he played it last year too but they also post him up some too, especially if he’s got a smaller guard on him. Most of the time he handles the ball. Him playing the point for his high school team I’d say started back when he was a freshman. Luke’s always been from the time he was real young, we always worked on his ability to handle the ball and that really started him playing as a point guard when he was a freshman and it’s continued since. I think it was the coach’s idea to put him at the point because he’s probably the best ball-handler on the team.

As a parent, we’re really trying to enjoy every moment this year because we know it’s his last year. I know the last game will be tough on us but we’re looking forward to the next years at Duke. Watching Luke in high school, it’s just something special because high school is high school and we have a great community here with a great following for the teams. High school ball is obviously just a special, special time in Luke’s life.

Has Luke had any recent measurements of height, weight, wingspan, etc?

He’s probably getting close to 6-foot-6 and he’s right around 190, 195. We haven’t measured his wingspan lately. You’ll be able to tell, even Coach K, when he visited, he told Luke, “man, you’ve grown a little bit” and he really has. He’s probably grown another half inch in the last six months. He’s getting stronger and bigger too, I mean you can really tell that his weights workouts have really helped him and you can just tell. I’ve got pictures of him when he even a freshman to now and there is a big, big difference in him physically.

Speaking of the meeting with the Duke staff recently—can you shed some light on what was discussed?

Yeah, Coach K, we knew they were coming and he really wanted to come out and see Luke and his other recruits. Coach K really expressed that he feels that Luke can play the point, he can play the shooting guard and he can play on the wing and he told us that Luke isn’t going to just play one position. He really enjoyed it he said getting to spend some time with us and I think he thinks that Luke has gotten better. It was good to see him, it’s always good to see him up here and we’re going to try and get down there real soon for a game and a visit.

What games are you guys targeting for potential visit dates?

One of them is the Syracuse game, I think that’s in February but we’re also looking at potentially going there earlier on an unofficial visit since we already took the official visit last year. It’ll be the first time we’ve been there since Luke signed with Duke.

What kind of questions did you guys have for the coaching staff when they visited recently?

I don’t think we necessarily had many questions, we just talked about their season so far and we talked about Luke. Coach K said he’s really excited about the team he has this year and he said they are really fun to coach and they are just a group of a bunch of great kids.

I think they are still trying to recruit another big or two in Luke’s class but we really didn’t discuss that too much. I think he thinks that Luke himself has good size and he feels like Luke can get even better this year and once he’s at Duke if he keeps putting in the work and focusing, he thinks he can definitely earn some playing time next year. Coach K is just, he’s such a family oriented guy, he cares so much about his guys and you can tell that. He’s a teacher, he’s a family man and he’s a big reason why Luke chose to go to Duke. He’s obviously one of the greatest coaches ever in basketball and he’s always been very forward with us and very sincere and very family-oriented and he really cares about his players. You can just tell his players mean a lot to him, he’s very genuine.

Is Luke looking at attending both sessions of summer school at Duke, or is competing to play for USA Basketball potentially on the schedule as well?

Luke is going to definitely try out for the USA Team for his age range and he will definitely attend one session of summer school. That right now is the plan.

How have the conversations gone with Duke’s academic people—both with the team and in the school administration? Has Luke expressed any interest in a major at this point?

We’ve talked with Luke about that and with Duke but Luke doesn’t have a major yet at this point that he’s thinking about but that’s coming soon.

When you go back to Duke for your visits coming up—what are you guys most looking forward to?

I’m sure we’ll meet with the academic guys again and I’m sure we’ll watch the games and also talk some more with the players and the coaches. The campus is beautiful, it’s really just about enjoying the campus atmosphere, we’re really looking forward to that again.

How was it for you guys watching Chase Jeter commit to Duke and join Luke as a future teammate?

Aw man, we were really excited. We’ve gotten to know Chase and his family real well and they are just great people and Chase is obviously a great player. Luke was extremely excited when Chase decided to go to Duke and they talk quite a bit, they are going to be great teammates together. Chase’s parents, man, they are just great people, great parents. We’ve been to dinner with them, they are just a great family to be around and we are really looking forward to getting to know them even better these next three or four years. When we were at USA Camp all the parents went out for dinner and we had a great time with them. Then we were with them on the official visit and we talked with them some there. They are just really great people and Chase is just a great kid.

Did you guys have any advance notice that Chase was going to be choosing Duke before he made his commitment public?

Well we kinda found out, Luke had talked to him and Luke thought that he was going to commit to Duke, but Chase didn’t really come out and say anything beyond Duke was in his top group of schools that he was going to pick from. So we were really excited to see that he’s going to be Luke’s teammate at Duke.

How much do you guys anticipate driving down to Duke for games once Luke is there?

I know we will see at least half of the games or so depending on what the schedule looks like for next season and what I can work out with vacation leave. If we need to stay there if games are close together, we’ll look at that too. We’re just looking forward to seeing him play as much as we are able to.

Have there been any other parents you’ve been able to develop relationships who are involved with Duke basketball in some way?

Yeah we’ve actually been able to do that through USA Basketball a little bit with guys like Tyus Jones, we’ve talked with him and his family, that’s a great family too and we’ve talked with the Winslow’s as well. They are just really classy people, great families with great kids. Tyus and Justise, they obviously are great players but they are great kids as well and Luke was really able to get to know them better through USA Basketball by being around them for several weeks.

What’s it been like for you as a father seeing Luke make the USA Basketball teams that he’s made being a relatively younger guy to some of the other guys on those teams?

It’s obviously, I pinch myself everyday about that because playing for your country, it’s just a dream come true, you know? When your kids get the opportunity, you wonder what it will be like for them when they are younger to play at the highest levels and now that he’s doing it, it’s just unreal. These last few years have just been unbelievable and we have met some great people through it. Luke’s very excited about Duke, it’s just been an unbelievable ride.

How’s the family doing with Luke leaving for college before you know it?

That will be tough on his mother obviously (haha) but it’ll be all good because we know that these four years in high school have been great and we know the next four years at Duke are going to be great as well. We’re really looking forward to it, it’ll be tough to leave him at college but on the other hand, we know it’s where he wants to be and he’s getting older and it’s just a great opportunity for Luke.

Does Luke and you as parents go into his time at Duke with the firm expectation that he’s there all four years?

Well, both I guess you would say. We definitely are expecting him to be there all four years and if he continues to keep getting better and keeps working hard and improves, then you maybe look at it year to year. But we are going in with the expectation that Luke is going to spend all four years at Duke.

Has the Duke staff asked Luke to work on anything specific this year in preparation for his time at Duke?

They want him to keep getting better and improving. Coach wants Luke to get better defensively and he’s given him some offensive points of view to think about a little bit. They don’t really, they want him to put on a little weight, maybe another 10-15 pounds or so, but they don’t really try to interfere at all, they just give a few suggestions.

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