Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
With Tyus Jones to the NBA, Luke Kennard is Ready to Play the Point at Duke
NEW YORK — With Tyus Jones on Wednesday announcing his plans to declare for the NBA Draft, Duke now officially needs a point guard for the 2015-16 season.
Newly minted national champion coach Mike Krzyzewskihas been out recruiting Derryck Thornton and Jamal Murray,hoping at least one will reclass and come to Duke.
Whether or not one of them does, Luke Kennard says he’s ready and able to handle some of the point guard duties next season.
“Well I talked to coach [Jon] Scheyer [Tuesday] and he was like, ‘Keep working on that ball-handling because we’re pretty confident in it,'” Kennard told SNY.tv Wednesday at the Jordan Brand practice. “If they decide to come to Duke and reclassify, like Derryck Thornton or Jamal, whatever they decide, that’s great. But if not, I’m going to go in there with a challenge. I like challenges, they motivate me, so I’ll be ready to go whatever they want me to do.”
The 6-foot-5 Kennard, who this year passed LeBron James on Ohio’s all-time scoring list, played both the one and the two in AAU ball and said he’s confident in his ability to be a lead guard at Duke if needed.
“In AAU, I played one and two,” Kennard said. “High school, I played all one. So I’m used to bringing the ball up against some quick guards so I can do it.”
Meantime, Kennard wasn’t able to practice Wednesday because of sore knees after playing in the Nike Hoop Summit on Saturday.
“I played at the Hoop Summit last week, it kind of took a toll on me,” Kennard said. “It hurt my knees quite a bit.”
Asked if he would play in Friday’s game, he said, “I’m gonna try, depends on how I’m feeling. I’m just here for the experience. I have tendonitis pretty bad so we’ll see how it goes. I’m just trying to be as healthy as I possibly can and just be ready for the next level.”
As for watching Duke beat Wisconsin for the national championship, Kennard loved it.
“Oh man, that was great,” he said. “I was yelling at the TV quite a bit, but I’m excited for them. They had a great year and I’m just excited to be a part of it.”
With Jones, Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor all heading to the NBA Draft and Quinn Cook graduating, Duke will need Kennard to come in and score the basketball.
“They lost two of their leading scorers, so I think that’s what they me to come in and do, score the ball and be a playmaker so I’m ready for it,” Kennard said. “I’m excited and I’m just ready to learn from the best coach in the world.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.