Luke Kennard and his family spoke glowingly of the University of Kentucky basketball program Friday afternoon, recounting the top recruit’s childhood spent as a Wildcats fan.
A little more than 48 hours later, Kennard and his parents were on the phone with John Calipari. The UK coach was calling with a scholarship offer.
“Luke was excited,” Mark Kennard, the player’s father, told the Herald-Leader on Monday. “It’s a great school. The tradition is unbelievable. Coach Calipari is a great coach, the way he develops players. It’s just an unbelievable opportunity.”
It was an unbelievable night for Luke Kennard, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Franklin, Ohio, who is considered the No. 18 overall prospect in the class of 2015.
Kennard and his family also talked to Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo, Louisville Coach Rick Pitino and an assistant from North Carolina on Sunday. Krzyzewski and Izzo were also calling to offer scholarships. U of L and UNC have yet to offer.
“Talking to some of the best coaches in the country — it’s humbling,” Mark Kennard said. “Luke’s been blessed with talent and he’s done a lot of work. He’s worked hard to get to where he’s at, and he’ll continue to work hard and continue to get better.
“It’s a great feeling, it really is. We’re excited for Luke and obviously we’re very proud of him.”
Luke Kennard and his father both said over the weekend that Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State were the three schools standing out in his recruitment. Those three Big Ten programs had already offered scholarships, as had schools such as Iowa, Notre Dame and Cincinnati.
Mark Kennard said UK, Duke and Michigan State are now in that top tier of schools that Luke is most serious about.
Some are already considering Kentucky the favorites to land his commitment.
24/7 Sports national analyst Jerry Meyer updated his “Crystal Ball” predictions page Sunday night to include Kennard in the UK category.
Mark Kennard speaks highly of Lexington and played basketball at Georgetown College in the 1980s before returning home to Franklin, Ohio, which is about 40 miles north of Cincinnati. Luke said he grew up wearing UK gear and rooting for the Cats, and his father acknowledged that Sunday’s scholarship offer was special.
“Luke doesn’t get too high or low about anything, but he was excited,” he said. “Tayshaun Prince was always his favorite player when he was real small. He’s excited. He’s thankful. He was humbled by it and feels very blessed to be given that opportunity.”
Mark Kennard said Luke will probably start to narrow down his list of schools “sometime soon” and would likely make a college decision before his senior season.
He and his wife Jennifer accompanied their son on an unofficial visit to UK’s campus early in Luke’s high school career. He said they “definitely” plan to return to Lexington in August or September and that Luke will play a high school game in Louisville during the upcoming season.
A trip to Big Blue Madness on Oct. 18 is also a possibility.
“We’ll start developing a good relationship and see what happens,” Mark Kennard said. “We’re excited. I can tell you that.”