Luke Kennard

VIDEO: Highlights from Duke’s ‘Countdown to Craziness’

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With four of the eight scholarship players who took Duke on a run to its fifth national title in April having moved on, Mike Krzyzewski’s team will have a much different look in 2015-16. Duke did manage to add one of the top recruiting classes in the country (and Rice transfer Sean Obi is eligible, too), and with returnees Grayson Allen, Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee expected to serve as leaders the Blue Devils are expected to once again be a national title contender.

But with all of those new pieces the team is still a work in progress, which isn’t an issue given the fact that we’re in mid-October. Saturday Duke held its annual “Countdown to Craziness” event at Cameron Indoor Stadium, unveiling their newest national championship banner and also holding an intrasquad scrimmage.

The scrimmage consisted of two 12-minute periods, with Allen (four rebounds, three steals) and Jefferson (seven rebounds) leading the way offensively with 13 points apiece. Freshman guard Luke Kennard added 12 points in his Cameron debut and forward Chase Jeter tallied 11 points and a team-best nine rebounds. Marshall Plumlee scored in double figures as well, finishing with ten points, eight rebounds and two blocks.

Above are the top five plays from the scrimmage, courtesy of Duke Athletics.

VIDEO: Duke’s Thornton dunks over Kennard

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Duke will rely on Derryck Thornton Jr. and Luke Kennard — two five-star guards from the Class of 2015 — this season in the back court, playing alongside Grayson Allen and Matt Jones.

On Thursday night, Thornton, the only true point guard on the roster, cleared the 6-foot-5 Kennard for a one-handed dunk. The right hand may have helped Thornton complete the slam, but it’s still impressive athleticism for floor general known for his high IQ.

#ComingSoon… @lukekennard10

A video posted by 💯⚡️ Derryck Thornton ⚡️💯 (@derryckjunior) on

Earlier this offseason, Brandon Ingram, the team’s top incoming freshman, showed off his hops in vertical jump testing, leaving his teammates stunned.

Duke opens the 2015-16 season on Nov. 13 against Siena.

[College Spun]

Duke commit Luke Kennard named Parade National Player of the Year

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Duke rising freshman Luke Kennard was named the Parade National Player of the Year on Friday, capping a very decorated career for the Ohio native.

The 6-foot-5 Kennard is the third consecutive future Blue Devil to receive the honor after Jahlil Okafor and Semi Ojeleye won the same honors the past two years.

Kennard led Franklin High School to a 26-2 record during his senior season as he averaged 38.4 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists per game. He also shot 59 percent from the field, 49 percent from 3-point range and 89 percent from the free-throw line. During his senior season, Kennard had five 50-point games.

Also a participant in the McDonald’s All-American Game, Nike Hoop Summit and Jordan Brand Classic, Kennard had a very busy spring and this award caps off a tremendous high school career before he heads to the ACC next season.

Kennard joins a deep Duke 2015 recruiting haul that includes five-star wing Brandon Ingram, five-star big man Chase Jeter, reclassified five-star point guard Derryck Thornton, and three-star big men Antonio Vrankovic and Justin Robinson.

Duke commit Luke Kennard responds to Tyus Jones’ departure

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NEW YORK – On Wednesday morning, Tyus Jones, the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, followed in the footsteps of teammates Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow, becoming the third Duke freshman to enter his name into this year’s NBA draft.

In light of the news of Jones’ decision, lone Jordan Brand Classic Duke commit Luke Kennard, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Franklin, Ohio, was repeatedly asked to address the state of the post-champion Blue Devils, whose key components have been stripped down and shipped to the NBA.

Kennard, who made waves earlier this season by passing LeBron James on Ohio’s all-time scoring list, acknowledged that, prior to the season, he assumed Okafor would likely be NBA-bound regardless of the season’s result. He also stated Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski explained, when it came to Jones and Winslow’s respective futures, the determining factor would be their late-season performances.

Even with the idea of all three breakout freshman jumping to the NBA implanted in the back of his mind, Kennard made it clear it was still a pill he had to choke down.

“It kind of stinks that they’re leaving, they’re great players,” Kennard said. “I played with Justise and Tyus on the USA Team, U-18, this past summer. It’s going to be tough but we’re ready to come in and just play good and prove [ourselves].”

The departure of Jones leaves the Blue Devils without a point guard to their name, just a season after playing with two — Jones and senior Quinn Cook — in their starting lineup. With the tarp officially being torn off the gaping hole, Krzyzewski is trying to convince either, or both, of 2016 targets Derryck Thornton and Jamal Murray, to reclassify and join Duke a year early.

However, if those plans end up fizzling, Kennard may be the Blue Devils’ fall-back to run the offense next season. Kennard, who played some point in AAU, as well as high school, told that assistant coach Jon Scheyer reached out to him and told him to, “keep working on that ball-handling,” because they may need it sooner rather than later.

If anyone knows about converted point guards, it’s Scheyer. After playing off the ball his first three years at Duke, Scheyer moved to the point in the midst of his senior season and led the Blue Devils to their fourth national title.

Kennard also admitted that, even though his sales pitch may not be as polished as Kryzyewski’s, he’s been doing some recruiting of his own. And while his efforts to lure Caleb Swanigan to Durham proved futile, Kennard said him and fellow Duke commit — as well as future roommate — Chase Jeter have been “going hard” at Brandon Ingram about joining them next season.

Ingram, ranked by Rivals as the No. 19 overall player in the 2015 class, would be a tremendous signing for Duke, but, as a small forward, he would not be the answer to their point guard woes.

While the final recruiting picture remains blurry, one thing is for sure: whether it’s from the two, off the bench, or as the starting point guard, Duke will need some major contributions from Kennard, along with the rest of their incoming class.

Jamal Murray, Skal Labissiere lead World past USA at Nike Hoop Summit

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One year after the United States Select Team managed to end a two-year losing streak at the Nike Hoop Summit, Roy Rana’s World Team won for the third time in the last four years Saturday afternoon in Portland, Oregon. Canadian Jamal Murray, playing in the event for a second consecutive year, scored 30 points to lead the World to a 103-101 win over the United States.

Murray, who’s currently a member of the Class of 2016 but is still considering the possibility of reclassifying to 2015, shot 12-for-23 from the field and also dished out five assists in 27 minutes of action. Also playing well for the World team were two forwards who will be playing in the SEC next season, Skal Labissiere and Ben Simmons.

Labissiere, who has committed to Kentucky, scored 21 points (9-for-16 FG) and grabbed six rebounds. As for Simmons, the top-ranked player in the Class of 2015 who will attend LSU next year flirted with a triple-double, finishing the game with 13 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. The length and athleticism of Simmons, Labissiere, fellow 2015 big man Cheick Diallo (12 points, eight rebounds) and 2016 big Thon Maker (ten rebounds) impacted the United States in the early going as the World team scored the first 14 points of the game.

The United States recovered from the slow start, with Duke commit Luke Kennard leading the way offensively with 22 points on 9-for-18 shooting and five rebounds. Four other players scored in double figures for the United States, with Villanova commit Jalen Brunson (seven assists) and undecided 2015 wing Brandon Ingram scoring 12 apiece, Arizona commit Allonzo Trier adding 11 and undecided 2015 guard Malik Newman ten points.

Kentucky commit Isaiah Briscoe led all players with nine assists while also scoring nine points.

Duke commit passes LeBron James on Ohio high school scoring list (VIDEO)

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Duke commit and Franklin High School senior Luke Kennard achieved something special on Friday night as the guard passed LeBron James on the Ohio High School Athletic Association career scoring list. With 44 points against Brookville, Kennard moved into fourth place on the list with 2,652 career points.

Kennard trailed James by 38 points for the No. 4 spot entering the game and buried a 3-pointer with 1:03 left in the third quarter to pass the perennial NBA All-Star and two-time NBA champion.

James is already familiar with Kennard, as the future Blue Devil played for the King James Shooting Stars in the Nike EYBL this past spring and summer.

The 6-foot-5 Kennard still has work to do to pass the all-time scoring lead in Ohio, which is held by former Ohio State guard Jon Diebler, who amassed 3,208 points in his high school career. Regarded as the No. 24 prospect in the 2015 class, Kennard was recently named to the McDonald’s All-American Game and also made the prestigious Nike Hoop Summit as a member of Team USA.

Daren Scarberry of Next Up Recruits was in attendance for Kennard’s big game and put together a video of the special night.