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Duke hoops recruit Kennard weighs football future

By Mike Dyer
Correspondent
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/17/18/56/1gEb4K.Em.138.jpeg|198
    - The Cincinnati Enquirer
    Duke basketball recruit Luke Kennard, a shooting guard ranked No. 19 overall nationally in his recruiting class, also is a standout quarterback in football-crazed Ohio.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/17/18/55/iAKHS.Em.138.jpeg|421
    - The Cincinnati Enquirer
    Luke Kennard

Duke basketball recruit Luke Kennard has experienced quite the summer.

Kennard, a rising senior who committed to Duke on March 24, won a gold medal with the USA Basketball Under-18 team in Colorado Springs in June. Soon after he returned home to southwest Ohio, the reigning state Associated Press Mr. Basketball went to Washington, D.C., and played one-on-one with Kevin Durant at the NBA star’s skills camp.

“That was a great time,” said Kennard, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who averaged 40 points, 10.4 rebounds, four assists and two steals as a junior last season. Rivals.com ranks Kennard No. 19 overall in the 2015 recruiting class.

The celebration of his summer accomplishments in his hometown of Franklin – a city halfway between Cincinnati and Dayton – also has been a great time.

Kennard is always in demand. He was the grand marshal of Franklin’s July 4 parade, and the city council recently recognized him with a Mr. Basketball sign to be placed in Franklin.

But the question at mid-summer is whether Kennard will play his final year of high school football when Franklin opens the season Aug. 30.

Kennard, an all-state quarterback, said recently he isn’t sure when he will decide.

Kennard, who is Duke’s only commitment in the 2015 class, enjoys football, as evidenced by comments he made to the media last season.

As the AP Division III state offensive player of the year (third-largest division in Ohio) as a junior, Kennard was the Cincinnati Enquirer player of the year in the smaller-school category.

Kennard, who shoots a basketball left-handed but throws a football right-handed, threw for 2,331 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushed for 214 yards and four touchdowns last season.

Though his decision on whether to play football has been put aside for most of this summer, Kennard said he expects to know soon. Official full football practice starts on Aug. 1.

This month, though, the focus is clearly on basketball.

Kennard was scheduled to participate in his final two AAU events. The NY2LA event continues until Sunday in Milwaukee, and the National Super Showcase is July 22-26 in Louisville, Ky.

“I might go to the last two AAU events and see how my body feels and then make a decision,” Kennard said.

Franklin basketball coach and athletic director Brian Bales said the decision will be left up to the Kennard family. When Kennard committed to Duke, he told reporters he hadn’t made a decision about football, but still planned to play.

“It’s going to be (Luke’s) decision,” Kennard’s father, Mark Kennard said. “He loves football and his teammates.”

Franklin football coach Brad Childers said he expects to meet with Mark Kennard soon to discuss the situation.

Childers, named head coach in March after being the defensive coordinator the past six seasons, said his players understand Kennard taking his time. He called Kennard a “once-in-a-lifetime player” and says he has a “great relationship with him and his family.”

Childers said whatever the basketball standout decides the team will be support. The football team has two backup quarterbacks in case he doesn’t play.

“If he comes in next week, he will be a bonus player,” Childers said. “… Our kids get it.”

Mark Kennard admits it will be a tough decision for his son to make, but the family realizes his future is basketball at Duke.

“He wants to play at Duke as a freshman,” Mark Kennard said.

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