NCB On The Trail: Luke Kennard

videoNow that the rosters are set for the 38th annual McDonald’s All American Game -- featuring the top 24 senior high school basketball players in the country -- let's take a closer look at the East team and a few of the many strengths its players will bring when they take on the West team April 1 at United Center in Chicago (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Five observations: Flyin' to the Hoop Invitational 

January, 21, 2015
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DAYTON, Ohio -- The Hoophall Classic wasn't the only event with top high school basketball prospects in attendance this past weekend. Here are five observations from the Good Samaritan Flyin' to the Hoop Invitational.

1. Jackson is one of 2016's best: Josh Jackson (No. 3 in the ESPN 60) is a probable future pro. His size, length, skill and athletic ability are at a unique level. I'm not sure I have seen a combination like this since LeBron James in high school. I'm not saying he's LeBron, but as an athlete, it is close. Jackson is improving skill-wise and is a much better ball-handler, facilitator and jump shooter versus a year ago. He had 31 points and 14 rebounds in a matchup against Huntington Prep.


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The player rankings in all three high school classes (ESPN 100, 60 and 25) have been updated. We base our rankings on the four Ps: Performance, production potential and projection, among many other factors. First we analyze and evaluate a prospect's individual performance, his production level now and possibly at the collegiate level, his potential in the college game, and where he could land on a possible professional draft board.

The player rankings also affect a school's class rankings, which have also been updated. Since our last update in September, some of our evaluations have changed or been confirmed. We are midway through the high school season in our rankings and there's still time for more movement, as this is a fluid process.

Here are five things to know about the new rankings.


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After the early-signing period, Kentucky is at the top of the class rankings. But with seven of the top-10 prospects in the ESPN 100 still uncommitted, there is plenty of work left to be done before the best class in the land is crowned.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the No. 1 class contenders, what they would have to do to finish in the top spot and what their chances are of finishing there (percentage):

Kentucky (75 percent)

Yes, the Wildcats are No. 1 now, but ironically none of their three commitments -- Skal Labissiere (No. 11), Isaiah Briscoe (No. 13), and Charles Matthews (No. 44) -- are from a top-10 ranked player in the class and so they’re far from a sure thing. John Calipari will likely look to add two more pieces to his class, one in the frontcourt and another in the backcourt. If he can get Ivan Rabb (No. 5), Cheick Diallo (No. 7), Caleb Swanigan (No. 8), Stephen Zimmerman (No. 10) or Carlton Bragg (No. 18) up front and then Jaylen Brown (No. 2), Malik Newman (No. 3), Brandon Ingram (No. 12) or Antonio Blakeney (No. 14) in the backcourt, UK has a good chance of finishing on top. If they have a mass exodus to the pros, and end up taking more than two players off this list, the top ranking will be a virtual certainty.


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Duke Blue Devils announce top-10 class

November, 12, 2014
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Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced the signing of two ESPN 100 prospects on Wednesday as the week-long early-signing period kicked off.

Joining the Blue Devils in 2015 will be ESPN 100 center Chase Jeter (No. 9 overall) and ESPN 100 shooting guard Luke Kennard (No. 26).

"We are excited about Luke and Chase joining our program," Krzyzewski told the school's website. "Both of them are terrific young men as well as extremely talented players. They will fit well into our team as well as the Duke community.

Chase is a natural athlete that runs well, catches well and he’s a really good talker. I like everything about Luke Kennard. He's a natural athlete and a competitor."

Coach K's class is currently ranked No. 9 on ESPN.com.

Five takeaways from Adidas Nations 

August, 6, 2014
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Adidas Nations, one of the final team events of the summer, finished its four-day run on Monday. The talent included outstanding players in the United States to top global prospects. In the championship game, 2016 adidas U.S. Lillard defeated 2016 adidas U.S. Wall, 106-78. 2015 adidas U.S. Howard won the consolation over team Europe, 52-46.

My five takeaways


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Top 5 committed prospects of 2015 

July, 7, 2014
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With the recent commitment of Daniel Giddens to Ohio State, 33 of the top 100 players in the Class of 2015 already have verbally committed, even though the July evaluation period is just beginning. These prospects sometimes get less media attention because they have already made their decisions, but they are still being constantly evaluated by our staff.

Let’s take a look at five committed prospects from the 2015 class who are performing well and could see jumps in their rankings:


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The Class of 2015 is in its early stages of development as new prospects are being recognized weekly and more established prospects are working to keep their reputations intact. May is a time to evaluate and analyze the nation's best. We will update our rankings in June after we get a thorough evaluation and find the emerging talent in this class.

With six months to go before the early signing period here is an early preview of the Class of 2015:


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With Myles Turner's commitment to Texas serving as an unofficial close to the 2014 recruiting class, it’s time to focus on the 2015 crop.

Here are 10 questions that the recruiting world will seek to answer in the next year:

1. Will it be one and done?


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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

Now that the Blue Devils have secured a commitment from ESPN 60 shooting guard Luke Kennard, their focus in the 2015 class will be on landing some size to blend in with their strong perimeter talent.

Jahlil Okafor could certainly be on his way to the NBA draft after next season, and that would just leave Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee in the post for Duke.

Besides Chase Jeter, other top 2015 frontcourt targets include ESPN 60 No. 1 recruit Ivan Rabb, Diamond Stone and Skal Labissiere.

That group of players possesses the size, rebounding, shot blocking and scoring Duke needs inside.

The Blue Devils are also still in the running for ESPN 100 center Myles Turner, the No. 2 prospect in the 2014 class. Turner will make his college decision sometime in the late signing period this spring.

And as we look down the road at the Class of 2016, Duke's priorities are in-state prospect Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum from Missouri.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff are landing some of the nation's premier talent in hopes of keeping Duke in contention in the powerful ACC.

Scout's Take: Luke Kennard to Duke 

March, 24, 2014
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Five-star shooting guard/smaller forward Luke Kennard, the No. 24 player in the ESPN 60, has committed to Duke over North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan and Louisville to give the Blue Devils one of the best wing scorers in the country regardless of class.


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Roundtable: Must-get prospects for 2015 

February, 25, 2014
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With the vast majority of the top prospects in the ESPN 100 now off the board, the focus of the recruiting world is now rapidly shifting to the 2015 class where programs from all levels of college basketball are looking to position themselves for a successful recruiting cycle.

Some are already ahead of the curve. LSU landed a huge early score in Ben Simmons (Melbourne, Australia/Montverde Academy), Arizona has its next big-time guard in Tyler Dorsey (Los Angeles/St. John Bosco) and Syracuse has a pair of ESPN 60 products in Malachi Richardson (Hamilton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) and Tyler Lydon (Pine Plains, N.Y./New Hampton).

Memphis, Michigan State, Marquette, and Illinois have early commitments from ESPN 60 products as well, while the Fighting Illini are joined by Connecticut, Washington, Villanova, New Mexico, Rutgers, and Mississippi State in already having two verbal commitments.

With the 2015 dominoes beginning to align, we asked our team of Recruiting Nation experts to pinpoint which programs have already established their top priority, or “must-have recruit,” in the coming year.


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#AskCoachB: Duke's 2015 priorities

February, 12, 2014
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.



Recruiting never stops, and coaches are always working on classes one or two years down the road. While Duke currently holds the top recruiting class in 2014, coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff are diving right into the Class of 2015 and beyond.

In the Class of 2015, size is a big need for Duke. The biggest name on the Blue Devils’ board is ESPN 60 No. 1 overall player Ivan Rabb (Oakland, Calif./Bishop O'Dowd), an extremely athletic post who scores, rebounds and blocks shots.

Other names on the list are Diamond Stone (Milwaukee/Dominican), a skilled low- and high-post player; Thomas Bryant (Rochester, N.Y./Huntington Prep), a wide yet mobile big with a soft touch; and Chase Jeter (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman ), a fundamentally sound inside and outside threat.

Some names to know on the perimeter are ESPN 60 No. 2 Malik Newman (Jackson, Miss./Callaway), Luke Kennard (Franklin, Ohio/Franklin), Brandon Ingram (Kinston, N.C./Kingston) and Charles Matthews (Chicago/St. Rita).

If you are a Duke fan, the biggest thing to remember right now is that the Blue Devils are still in the running for ESPN’s No. 2 2014 prospect Myles Turner (Bedford, Texas/Trinity), who is expected to make a decision when his season is over. While the Duke staff has 2015 targets on the board, wrapping up the 2014 class comes first.

Flyin' to the Hoop Invitational recap 

January, 21, 2014
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DAYTON, Ohio -- The Good Samaritan Flyin' to the Hoop Invitational is a four-day basketball showcase held annually over the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. It matched great local and in-state talent with highly ranked teams and players from across the country.

Here are a few players who stood out in this high-level and very competitive environment.

Most Explosive Wing

Kelly Oubre (Richmond, Texas/Las Vegas Findlay Prep)
2014, SF, 6-foot-7, 190 pounds
Signed: Kansas
Oubre is what a major college wing is supposed to look and play like. The No. 10 overall player in the ESPN 100 finished above the rim with flair. His explosiveness and ability to finish in heavy traffic was terrific. He draws fouls when he attacks the painted area and knocks down the deep 3, especially from the corners, with ease. Oubre will need to continue to develop his mid-range game and work to be a better on-ball defender, of which he is very capable. Overall, Oubre is a big-time wing who will find a way to contribute immediately next season for the Jayhawks.

Best Variety of Shots


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Roundtable: Best event of holiday season 

December, 10, 2013
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Jahlil Okafor, Mike Krzyzewski, Tyus JonesGetty Images, USA TODAY Sports, AP PhotoBefore they become teammates at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones will face off on Thursday in a game televised on ESPN2.

The holiday season is a busy time for college basketball recruiters. About a month into the season, and only a couple of weeks removed from the early signing period, recruiting lists tend to be regenerated as coaches learn new things about their team and move on to new prospects.

Combine that with a variety of holiday events that feature several teams in a single location, coupled with a temporary pause in many college schedules for final exams, the next couple of weeks could very possibly be the busiest recruiting period of the high school season, and those tournaments continue past the holiday season.

With coaches out in full force, we asked our team at RecruitingNation what they were most looking forward to in the coming weeks:


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