The self-described kid from Franklin is on the verge of becoming a professional basketball player.
Franklin High School graduate Luke Kennard announced Thursday that he’s leaving Duke University after two seasons to enter the June 22 NBA Draft.
“What a neat, neat moment,” Franklin coach Brian Bales said. “I’m like a proud parent. I know I’m biased. He’s one of my former players, and we all think our players and kids are great.
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“But Luke has always had that special gift about him. He’s got the ‘it’ factor, plus he’s very talented. I thought he would be a two- or three-year guy at Duke, I really did. Duke has everything you need, from the greatest coach in the land to the resources, to be a great player that gives yourself this opportunity.”
The 6-foot-6, 202-pound guard was a consensus second-team All-American this season after leading the Blue Devils in scoring with a 19.5 average. He shot 48.9 percent from the floor, 43.8 percent from 3-point range and 85.6 percent from the line.
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Kennard has made at least one 3-pointer in 40 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in Duke history and the 10th-longest stretch in Atlantic Coast Conference history.
He’s planning to sign with an agent, which will officially end his collegiate career.
“With the efficiency rating he had across the board in college basketball this year, all the projections and all the intel that we have received say he’s got a very good chance to be a first-round draft pick in the NBA Draft,” Bales said. “If you play basketball, this is what you work your whole life for, to one day be able to accomplish the dream of being able to play in the NBA.”
Bales thought Kennard would travel this path on the hardwood.
“I think his sophomore year he evolved into that superstar that he and Duke knew he could be,” the FHS coach said. “Two years ago when he made the decision to go to Duke, I gave him a piece of paper and a picture frame with an NBA logo on it. It said, ‘What have you done today that will help you get your name called?’
“I told him, ‘Duke’s not bringing you to Duke to be a player. Duke’s bringing you to Duke to be a superstar, and if you go there and do what you’re supposed to do and work hard and every day answer that question, your dream of playing basketball in the NBA will become a reality.’
“There’s still a lot of work to do. He’s got a big couple months ahead of him.”
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