The recruiting process is winding down for 2015 Franklin (Ohio) five-star guard Luke Kennard.
Currently ranked the No. 14 overall player in his class, Kennard’s junior season recently came to a close at the hands of Dayton Dunbar.
“Kind of a frustrating loss but yeah we got beat,” Kennard’s father Mark said. “The team that beat us was really good, they’re still playing and they might end up going to the state (championship). Our sectional is so hard and next year our goal is to get past that because we’ve got five starters back which bodes well.
“We didn’t like that (end) but other than that our season was great. We ended up 20-4 and beat some really good teams. That non-conference schedule was pretty tough and we won our league again so it’s been a lot of fun.”
Kennard broke several records this season at Franklin including setting the career scoring record, a game high of 59-points, a record he previously held, and was named player of the year in his league as well as Southwest Ohio player of the year, among other accolades.
Standing 6-foot-5, 190-pounds and obviously boasting elite scoring ability, Kennard’s recruitment welcomed in a virtual who’s who of top college basketball coaches with consistently strong programs.
Recently making the decision to take one of five official visits to see Duke and Coach Mike Krzyzewski as they played host to North Carolina, the Kennard’s walked away impressed with the overall picture the Blue Devils were able to paint.
“It was a great visit,” Kennard said. “Duke obviously with Coach K it speaks for itself. The whole campus was really nice; the atmosphere was great at the game.
“We met with people on the academic side of it, academic advisors, admissions, and we were just able to see the whole campus not just on the basketball side but on the academic side which was nice.”
On Duke, Kennard added the trip was a long time coming, “Duke was the only one we hadn’t been to. That was really, you know we took an unofficial to North Carolina last year, had a long weekend and went there for a couple days. We actually watched Duke play at Carolina.
“So, really we had talked to them about getting there and we had thought about trying to get there unofficially in the fall and that didn’t work out. We kind of just set this date and said if it’s ok we’d like to take our official then and that’s kind of how that came about.”
The first school to begin courting Luke as just a freshman at Franklin is Michigan and Coach John Beilein. Fresh off of winning the Big Ten regular season championship outright for the first time since 1986, the Wolverines’ success continues to standout to the Kennard’s.
“Well obviously Coach Beilein is one of the nicest and greatest guys we’ve met,” Kennard said. “You can’t help but root for him. He’s such a good guy and he’s done a great job.
“Let’s be honest, he lost Mitch McGary and everybody thought man, but look at it and he’s had other players step-up and play great. They’ve got a heck of a team and they may be playing well into March and April. It’s been fun to watch them.”
Keeping a close eye on Michigan sophomore wing Nik Stauskas, the second consecutive Big Ten Player of the Year for the Wolverines and at a wing position Kennard could assume should he choose to play his college years in Ann Arbor, the Kennard’s saw tremendous improvement in the Ontario native.
“We watched him the whole year,” Kennard said. “You know every time they were on we’d probably watch them. That’s why I hate basketball season being over cause during the year you can watch it just about every night; it was great.
“But every time Michigan was on we’d watch them and I’ll tell you, he was good last year but he’s really stepped his game up. But they’ve had a lot of kids, it’s been fun to watch them cause they’ve had a lot of kids really step-up.”
With schools like Ohio State, Louisville, Kentucky and North Carolina also firmly in the mix along with Duke and Michigan, the Kennard’s next decision hinges on who will receive the final four official visits allotted, how many of those officials will be necessary, or if a decision could render the rest of the trips obsolete.
“I think Luke would like to get this over sooner than later,” Kennard said. “Here’s the thing, we’ve been to a lot of these places so does he need to take official visits or not?”
Becoming a daily discussion in the Kennard household, it appears one official visit could be set with another on the horizon as the decision making process begins to take shape.
“We’ve talked to Luke and like I said he would like to do this sooner than later but if we do take an official visit, and we kind of have one tentatively scheduled with Ohio State in April,” Kennard said. “And then we’ve kind of been talking to Michigan a little bit but we haven’t set anything up with anybody else. That’s just kind of, because right now they’re busy, with this week and the start of next week, they’re not going to have time for me to come down and chauffer me around (laughing).
“And that’s why these coaches have been so good to us, they’ve never acted like we bother them and we try not to bother too many people but it’s been a fun process.
“When Luke’s ready to commit we’ll do it. If it’s tomorrow we’ll do it tomorrow, if it’s two weeks from now, whatever. We’re talking about it just about every night, or we have the last few nights.”
When a decision is made, the Kennard’s have a plan in mind for how the commitment will be announced publically, part of a community that has come out in full force with support, selling out home games and even road games this past season to follow the team’s run.
“We’ve discussed that and we’ll probably do something at the school,” Kennard said. “He’ll probably announce at the school. Calling the coaches, that’s going to be really tough. It’ll probably be me, him, and his mother on the phone and you’ll probably hear at least two people crying every time we call a coach just because we’ve gotten to know some of these guys and they’re great people.
“And I’m talking about all the five or six schools that Luke’s got it narrowed down to, all of them. We’ve developed relationships with them all and they’ve just been great people.”
Maintaining that all of the finalists are in a dead heat, a leader could slowly be emerging heading into the last straight away.
“One of those few schools I named,” Kennard said laughing. “He’s probably got three or four he really likes out of six and so, I would say yes but I don’t want to speak for Luke right now.
“He likes them all right now to be honest but, when something is decided to announce it we’ll probably set something up at the school and tell people a day or so in advance that he’s going to announce a decision.”