NCB On The Trail: Luke Kennard

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.

Duke Blue Devils announce top-10 class

November, 12, 2014
Nov 12
7:59
PM ET
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.
video
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


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

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:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video
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:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video
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?


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

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
Mar 24
8:24
PM ET
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.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Roundtable: Must-get prospects for 2015 

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25
10:00
AM ET
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.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

#AskCoachB: Duke's 2015 priorities

February, 12, 2014
Feb 12
12:30
PM ET
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
Jan 21
1:45
PM ET
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


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Roundtable: Best event of holiday season 

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
10:24
AM ET
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:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Plenty of stocks on the rise in Orlando 

July, 25, 2013
7/25/13
11:41
AM ET
ORLANDO, Fla. -- As July's third live evaluation period opened on Wednesday, there was plenty of talent on display at the AAU Nationals. From established ESPN 60 prospects like Luke Kennard to rising stars like Doral Moore to super sleepers like Maurice Howard and D.J. Porter, one of the common themes was players who are raising their stock.

Here’s a look at some of the top performers from Wednesday at the AAU Nationals.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Top players from LeBron camp Day 1 

July, 7, 2013
7/07/13
11:39
AM ET
LAS VEGAS -- Day 1 is in the books at the LeBron James Skills Academy. Saturday was a combination of skill development, competitive drill work and some five-on-five action.

Here’s a look at five players -- two rising seniors, one rising junior and two rising sophomores -- who were especially impressive on Day 1 among the many great prospects at the camp.

Rashad Vaughn (Minneapolis/Robbinsdale Cooper)
2014, SG, 6-foot-6, 200


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Luke KennardMichael Rothstein/ESPNESPN 60 shooting guard Luke Kennard, the nation's No. 30 recruit in the Class of 2015, has offers from the likes of Michigan, Ohio State, Indiana, Dayton, Notre Dame, West Virginia and Xavier.
There isn’t a specific moment Luke Kennard remembers as the point he stopped being a regular kid and turned into a mini-celebrity in Franklin, Ohio. His new normal has been this way for two years now.

Friends will make a big deal. As he wanders around his hometown, occasionally people will give a second glance. Yes, the nation’s No. 30 hoops prospect in the Class of 2015 is only entering his junior year of high school and just turned 17. But in a town halfway between Cincinnati and Dayton, where the population of 11,819 would be less than half the enrollment of some of the major colleges trying to get him to play basketball for them, he is Franklin’s star.

“A lot of my friends, they think I’m famous now,” said Kennard, a shooting guard who holds offers from the likes of Michigan, Ohio State, Indiana, Dayton, Notre Dame, West Virginia and Xavier. “Around quite a bit of places, when I walk around, they’ll kind of notice me.”

None of this, however, has bothered or changed Kennard. He remains the same kid who goes out and plays pickup football or basketball with the neighborhood kids. He is the same kid who used to dominate his youth basketball leagues so much that Franklin’s basketball coach, Brian Bales, said, “He was almost on another planet compared to the kids.”

None of that has changed. Only the attention has.

It all started before he even played a high school varsity basketball game. He already had multiple colleges interested in him and some schools offering scholarships. The scholarship chase began the summer before his freshman year when he went with Franklin High to a team basketball camp at Michigan. Every year, Bales picks a different college camp to attend and the program had never been to Ann Arbor.

The Michigan coaching staff asked Bales if he had any players they should watch. At first, he wasn’t going to say anything because, well, Kennard was just entering his freshman year of high school.

Bales recalled explaining to a Michigan graduate assistant, “You know, this is going to sound crazy, and I don’t know how good he is, but we think he’s pretty special. We have an eighth-grader who is going to be a freshman that you should take a look at.”

By Franklin’s second game at the camp, one of Michigan’s staffers was watching Kennard play. His third game, the entire Wolverines staff was watching. Like that, his recruitment had begun, even if an offer from Michigan, one of the many schools recruiting him, didn’t come until June 15 of this year.

“At the time, Luke had not received any offers,” Kennard’s father, Mark, said. “He had just gotten out of eighth grade.”

The last two years has changed that. Franklin, largely due to Kennard, occasionally sells out its basketball arena. He has offers -- or at least interest -- from most of the nation’s top 25 college basketball programs. Also a star quarterback on the gridiron, Louisville offered for football and Big Ten schools have expressed interest.

While he doesn’t yet know where he is going to college or even what sport he is going to play when he gets there, he is certain of one thing: He will only play one of them. There will be no attempts of doing what Charlie Ward, Ronald Curry and Donovan McNabb, among others, have done before him by balancing both sports in college.

He will choose one. And that will be it.

Luke Kennard
Courtesy of NikeKennard is a star on both the hardwood and the gridiron.
“It would be almost impossible to play both,” Mark said. “To me, that would be really tough to do. So he would probably just pick one. I think basketball is his favorite right now, but I talked to him [recently] about football and he was like, ‘Dad, I love to play.’

“I’m not going to have him pick one now. I’m going to have him leave his options open.”

Those options have increased by the month, part of a two-year journey that has seen him already break some of his father’s high school basketball records and put him on pace to break most of Franklin’s scoring records in basketball and passing records in football.

Kennard already holds the school’s record for single-season touchdown passes in the regular season (22) and for an entire season (24). In his first season as a starter last fall, he completed 140 of 264 passes for 1,880 yards, 24 TDs and seven interceptions.

In basketball, he’s already fifth in career points at Franklin with 990 and could pass his uncle, Todd Kennard, for the school’s career scoring mark of 1,434 points next season. He holds the school’s single-season scoring record (624 points) and record for most free throws made in a season (135). His 27.1 points per game as a sophomore is also a school record.

So what does Kennard want? Right now, he says he likes basketball better. Why? He’s not sure.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Kennard said. “I just feel like I would play [basketball] any time of the day. It’s just my passion, pretty much. I like football a lot, but I am getting more looks for basketball right now, so that’s probably why.”

There is little doubt, though, how good he can be. Bales said he thinks Kennard could eventually be an NBA player. His football coach, Rodney Roberts, considers Kennard a “once-in-a-lifetime” type of player to coach. They both believe he’s that good.

The attention he has received has elevated Franklin into bigger tournaments and more exposure. When Kennard plays basketball, it’s an event. The school pre-sells tickets, most of which are often gone by the end of the day. The Franklin gym, which has sold out twice, turns into a loud crush of people trying to get a glimpse of the hometown star.

“It’s packed. It’s just packed,” Roberts said. “There’s a buzz around the whole city, a buzz around him.”

It’s a buzz that should only increase over time as Kennard figures out what sport he wants to play and where he wants to continue with it.

SPONSORED HEADLINES