Auburn Hills — It would have been very easy for things to turn out differently for Pistons guard Luke Kennard. Instead of going to Duke for basketball, Kennard could have gone to Michigan, where he was heavily recruited by coach John Beilein.
Kennard also could have been wearing maize and blue for the Michigan football team, gearing up for Saturday’s matchup against Michigan State.
Kennard was a standout quarterback at Franklin High School in Ohio and was recruited by then-Michigan coach Brady Hoke.
A two-sport star, Kennard was Ohio’s Division II offensive player of the year as a sophomore in 2013, passing for 2,331 yards and 26 touchdowns and running for another four touchdowns. Kennard gave up football in his junior year and focused completely on basketball, where he became a McDonald’s All-America and left Duke after two years for the NBA draft and was taken by the Pistons in 2017.
“I didn’t play my senior year because I committed my junior year to Duke, so I decided not to play football,” Kennard said last month when the Pistons held training camp at Michigan’s Crisler Center. “Michigan was recruiting me when Hoke was here. I came up on a football visit as well.”
Those thoughts of playing quarterback went by the wayside, but he reprised those dreams in a video while he was still at Duke.
“I did (envision going to Michigan),” Kennard said. “They were in my top five when I lowered my list of schools. I took it into consideration to come here.”
With his focus on basketball solely, Kennard averaged 38.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists as a senior at Franklin and was Ohio’s Mr. Basketball in 2014 and ’15. He finished as the No. 2 all-time scorer in Ohio state history, with 2,997 points.
Kennard said he still likes Michigan and still has a good relationship with Beilein. As he thought about Saturday’s showdown, he admitted he leans a little toward the Wolverines.
“I’ve been to Michigan football game before and never an MSU game and it was rocking at the Big House, so I have to go with Michigan,” Kennard said Thursday. “There’s a little history there, but nothing negative. I like Michigan State; it’s a good school but Michigan was on my radar for a while.”