Which of these is not like the other? Christian Laettner, J.J. Redick, Grayson Allen, and Luke Kennard. One had a 30 for 30 Documentary celebrating how much the world hated you, another was once called “the most hated current athlete in America”, another had “the trip(s) heard round the world”, and the last, well, the last does nothing but go to work every day, and quite frankly gets buckets. Luke Kennard could have been the great white hope for the Blue Devils. He could have changed the narrative of the “white Duke Basketball Villain”. But instead, he, as always, just stays under the radar and goes to work every day.
For as long as I can remember Duke has always had a villain on their team. More often than not it has been a white guy who has loved the trash talk, interacted with fans and opponents alike, and relished the opportunity to continue the narrative. Laettner started it, Redick brought it back to life, and now Grayson Allen has stumbled his way into role. If Grayson Allen would have left for the NBA last year, who would have filled the void? Luke Kennard? Not a chance.
With the upcoming rivalry game tonight at 8, it felt right to give Kennard the recognition he deserves because the media will continue to play into the Grayson Allen Saga like he is a member of the Kardashian Family. Kennard has quietly been averaging 19.8ppg, 5.2rbg, and 2.6apg, while at the beginning of the year being widely considered at best the third option on his team to score the ball. That fact alone is shocking considering that Kennard graduated high school ranking above LeBron James in scoring for his career with 2,977 points and averaging 38.1ppg in his senior season. And he was going to be the third option in Duke’s offense. Come on.
One place you’ll never see Kennard is attracting the spotlight. He comes from smalltown USA in Ohio, born in Middletown and attending Franklin High School. He just grinds away and keeps scoring points. That is something that will never change. He came in as a sharpshooter, and since has developed his game to work more off the dribble jumpers into his arsenal. It has allowed him to have the ball in his hands more and become more of a playmaker, taking him back to his days at Franklin, where he joined elite company as a two-time winner of Mr. Ohio Basketball.
So, as you watch the game tomorrow, don’t get caught up in the media following Grayson Allen. Don’t let the narrative continue to play with Laettner and Redick highlights flowing across your screen during pregame. Look for the not-so-small star in the making wearing number 5 for the Blue Devils. While he is quiet, no light is too bright for him. He is about to put on a hell of a show, and maybe, just maybe, change the story about a white guy in a Duke Basketball jersey. He is the white guy Duke deserves, but not the one that Cameron Indoor is ready for. Enjoy the show.