Franklin’s Kennard repeats as Ohio Mr. Basketball

Luke Kennard sealed his place in state prep history Wednesday by winning his second straight Ohio Mr. Basketball award.

The Franklin High School senior became the sixth player to earn the Associated Press honor multiple times. The lone three-time winner was LeBron James of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (2001, 2002, 2003).

Earning the Mr. Basketball title twice were Jared Sullinger of Columbus Northland (2009, 2010), O.J. Mayo of North College Hill (2005, 2006), Greg Simpson of Lima Senior (1991, 1992) and Jim Jackson of Toledo Macomber (1988, 1989).

“Man, those players,” said Kennard, hesitating. “I’m just really blessed. It’s not just for me, but for my family and the entire program and community here.”

Kennard, who will play for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke University next season, finished second in state history in scoring with 2,977 points. No. 1 is Jon Diebler of Fostoria and Upper Sandusky with 3,208.

Kennard averaged 38.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.2 steals this season. He led Franklin to a program-best 26-2 record and its fourth consecutive Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division title.

“It’s not an award that I can just put my name on,” Kennard said. “That’s a Franklin High School award, a Franklin basketball team award.

“I’m just truly blessed to be in this position. Sometimes I don’t even think that I really realize how big it actually is. I just need to take a look back and really notice everything that has come my way.”

Kennard, who said he learned about the award early Wednesday evening on Twitter, noted that he would trade it for a trip to the Division II state tournament. Dunbar denied Franklin 77-76 in overtime in the regional finals last weekend.

“It stung a lot,” he said. “It’s still haunting us to this day, and it will be for a while. As days go on, we’ll just get better and better.

“It was still an unbelievable season. Except for going to state, just being around this group of guys and the coaches and how we brought the community together, there’s no way I could’ve written a better senior year.”

Wildcats coach Brian Bales knew Kennard was going to be special at a young age, but his career soared to national heights.

“To be a two-time Mr. Basketball in the state of Ohio is about as good as it gets,” Bales said. “We couldn’t ask for a better young man to represent our basketball program and community and school.”

“Who could’ve dreamed that coaching at Franklin High School I would coach a once-in-a-lifetime player who was going to be a two-time Mr. Basketball? He’s the best player I have ever coached. He’s the best player I will ever coach. At this time, in my opinion, he’s the best player that ever walked these hallways.

“I won’t be his coach anymore, but I’ll be his biggest fan.”

Kennard is the 28th winner of the AP Ohio Mr. Basketball award. Past winners also include current NBA players James, Sullinger and Trey Burke. The selection was made based on balloting by a state panel of media members.

Others considered for the award included 6-foot-10 senior Carlton Bragg of Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph (headed for Kansas), 6-2 Joshua Williams of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron), Shaker Heights’ 6-8 Esa Ahmad (West Virginia), 6-0 junior Xavier Simpson of Lima Senior, 6-1 junior Drew Rackley of New Concord John Glenn and 6-1 Beau Justice of Peebles (West Liberty).

Kennard has a busy few months ahead.

He’s scheduled to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game on April 1 at the United Center in Chicago. Then he’ll go to Portland, Ore., to participate in the Nike Hoop Summit on April 11 at the Moda Center.

Next will be the Jordan Brand Classic on April 17 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

In June, Kennard will try out for the USA Basketball U19 national team in Colorado Springs, Colo. If he makes that squad, he’ll go to Crete, Greece, to compete for the FIBA U19 World Championship.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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