Every generation of area high school basketball has been defined by one great player. Or two.
There’s no beating Wayne Embry (1955 Tecumseh graduate), Jerry Lucas (’59 Middletown), Bill Hosket Jr. (Belmont ’64), Donald Smith (Roth ’70), Kevin Grevey (Hamilton Taft ’71), Jim Paxson (Alter ’75), Dwight Anderson (Roth ’78), John Paxson (Alter ’79), Ron Harper (Kiser ’82), Daequan Cook (Dunbar ’06) or Norris Cole (Dunbar ’07) for signature area players. Scores more had just as much impact.
Destined to join that elusive club is Franklin’s Luke Kennard. How do we know this? Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky are among the college powers to have offered him to join their programs. The many scouting services vary on labeling him, but not by much. He’s a consensus top 15 player in the nation and No. 1 in Ohio for the Class of 2015.
A coachable attitude, unselfish play and a prolific scoring ability aren’t the only attributes that the 6-foot-5 and a half-inch guard/forward has going for him.
“As good as (Kennard) is as a player — being recruited and offered by pretty much everyone in the country — he’s a better person,” Wildcats basketball coach Brian Bales said during last week’s Flyin’ to the Hoop conference to announce its 2014 schedule.
“He holds a 4.3 GPA. He ranks No. 4 in his class. … All the things that you hear about him, those are the two that make me most proud.”
Here’s what Kennard had to say about that, playing football — he’s the Wildcats’ standout QB — and where he’s headed to play collegiately:
Q: Are you a brainiac?
A: I don’t know about that. My parents have always been on me about my grades. I try to keep up and I try my hardest in school. That’s what I need to do.
Q: What do you plan on studying in college?
A: I haven’t really thought about that. I’m going to have to soon. Me and my parents have talked about that, but we haven’t made that decision yet, either.
Q: When did your recruiting take off?
A: I went to some big showcases and events that were going on (playing for the 16U King James Shooting Stars AAU team). At the (Nike) Peach Jam (in July) down in Georgia, that’s where it really started picking up. A lot of big-time coaches were coming to watch and that’s when they started contacting me, after that.
Q: Are you a football or basketball player?
A: I play football and I’m really just focused on that right now. Once basketball rolls around, I’ll start picking it up. We should have a pretty good (basketball) team this year. We’ll set some goals and try and reach those goals.
Q: What’s in your future, basketball, football or both?
A: It’s going to be a tough choice. Right now I’m thinking about basketball. That’s probably more what I’m really leaning to. But during football season, I’m focused on football. That’s what I’m doing right now, for my school, coaches, teammates, community. When it’s basketball season I’ll focus on that. I haven’t fully decided 100 percent, but I’m kind of thinking basketball.
Q: If you commit early to hoop, will you still play football as a senior?
A: I’ve talked to my mom and dad about it. There are some pretty good legends out there who have played both. I think it would just be too tough on the body. I’ll probably just focus on one (sport).
Q: Ever taken that one hit in football that you thought, uh-oh?
A: It was a game-like scrimmage. I got stepped on and had to get stitches. I’ve taken a few hits, but I always try to get back up real fast. I really haven’t (taken a big hit). I have a pretty good line up front blocking for me. I think I’ll be all right.
Q: Are you right- or left handed?
A: I shoot (basketball) left-handed and throw (football) right-handed. It just came natural to me. I don’t know how that happened.
Q: Top five schools?
A: Ohio State, Michigan, Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky. Those are the top five right now. January 1st is when I can take those official visits.
Q: Do you envision verbally committing before your senior year?
A: Yes. We plan to (commit) the end of this year. Plans can always change, too. Anytime between now and the end of my junior year.
Q: Do you have a leader in the recruiting pack?
A: I couldn’t tell you. It’s going to be a tough choice and I haven’t really thought about that yet.
Q: The rumor mill had you transferring to Moeller last year. Maybe even Dunbar or Oak Hill (Va.) Academy. Any chance that you’ll leave Franklin for any other school or national prep power?
A: No, I’m a Franklin kid and I’ll be there until I’m done. I love being a part (of Franklin).
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