Luke Kennard declares for NBA draft; predicted to land in first round

Luke Kennard, Franklin High School grad and Duke basketball star, will leave college and enter the NBA draft, according to press release from Duke University.

Kennard led Duke in scoring with 19.5 points per game and shot .489 from the floor, including .438 from the 3-point line. His stellar offensive play led to him being named a consensus All-American.

GREENVILLE, SC - MARCH 19: Luke Kennard #5 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts on the sideline in the second half against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena on March 19, 2017 in Greenville, South Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) (Staff Writer)

“After considerable reflection, prayer and consultation with family and coaches, I have decided to take the next step in pursuing my basketball dreams and enter the NBA draft,” Kennard said in the release. “I have a lot of hard work ahead of me, but I’m confident I’m ready.”

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Kennard was more than ready in the eyes of NBA teams, who began scouting him heavily. The Franklin native was certain to be returning to Duke next season, but his mind changed as his great year offensively made him a mid-to-late first-round pick in the draft.

Various experts have Kennard as a top 20 pick, or landing somewhere between 16 and 24 on the board. With the  NBA’s slotted rookie contract system, Kennard could get a four-year deal worth between $7 million and $10 million over the length of the contract. 

Helping Kennard’s chances, he’s an excellent outside shooter in a draft that lacks outside shooters. He scored double-figures in 35 of Duke’s 37 games, he scored more than 20 points 19 times.

“Luke’s skill set is perfect for the way the NBA game has evolved,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We’re excited to see him flourish at the next level. “

Kennard graduated from Franklin as Ohio’s Mr. Basketball. He had college offers from Kentucky and Ohio State while a standout with the Wildcats.

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