Duke

Duke’s Luke Kennard heads to the Detroit Pistons as the No. 12 overall pick

Duke’s Luke Kennard (5), the ACC Tournament MVP, is embraced by his parents Mark and Jennifer Kennard as they watch a video tribute following the Blue Devils’ 75-69 victory over Notre Dame in the championship game on Saturday, March 11, 2017 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Duke’s Luke Kennard (5), the ACC Tournament MVP, is embraced by his parents Mark and Jennifer Kennard as they watch a video tribute following the Blue Devils’ 75-69 victory over Notre Dame in the championship game on Saturday, March 11, 2017 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. rwillett@newsobserver.com

Luke Kennard wasn't projected as a lottery pick in the NBA Draft until the last few weeks.

But on Thursday night, those latest projections became reality as the 6-foot-6 Duke sophomore was chosen with the No. 12 pick by the Detroit Pistons, who finished 37-45 last season.

"I think what I can bring to them is a big thing," Kennard said at Barclays Center. "I'm a competitor. I love to win. Like I said, I'm just excited for it.

"It's close to home, being from Ohio, and I'm really, really excited, and it's going to be a fun journey with them."

He was the second Duke player chosen in the lottery, following freshman forward Jayson Tatum, who went No. 3 to the Boston Celtics. Duke has now produced 23 lottery picks under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, the most of any school.

“It was a tough choice to leave Duke," Kennard said on ESPN. "I trusted the people I surrounded myself with and they told me it was a great opportunity, and I trusted them it was the right time to go.”

Kennard is a natural scorer who averaged 19.5 points and 5.1 rebounds last season at Duke. During his high school career at Franklin (Ohio), Kennard passed LeBron James on the Ohio High School Athletic Association career scoring list.

Still, he wants to show he's "more than just a shooter. People say I’m only a shooter but also displaying my playmaking abilities along with my competitiveness."

Kennard said he's looking forward to playing alongside former Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who also likes to shoot the long ball.

"I'm going in to learn and to learn from the veterans like him and the other guys will allow me to mature as a player, and to be able to play that way," he said. "So I think it gives me a good opportunity to help make an impact and allow us to make that next step."

For his career, Kennard averaged 15.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 31.2 minutes. He was a career .461 shooter from the floor and 38 percent from three-point range. Kennard’s .867 career free throw percentage is the second-best in Duke history.

He scored at least 20 points in 35.6 percent (26-of-73) of his games in a Duke uniform.

“Luke’s skill set is such a perfect fit for the way the NBA game has evolved and we’re all excited to see him flourish at the next level," Krzyzewski said when he made his decision to go pro. "He is a wonderful person who will immediately be an asset to an NBA team.”

  Comments