Making his first start as a Blue Devil, freshman Luke Kennard scored a game-high 25 points that included ...

Duke basketball Player of the Week: Exhibition contests

Luke Kennard

Statline: Oct. 30 vs. Florida Southern: 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting, five rebounds, two assists and one steal in 26 minutes. Nov. 4 vs. Livingstone: 25 points on 8-of-17 shooting, nine rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes.

The good: In his first action on the college level against Florida Southern, Kennard did not seem fazed one bit and tallied 14 points against Florida Southern. Outside of his contributions on the stat sheet, Kennard displayed his hustle and energy when he soared in the student section after a loose ball with the Blue Devils fully in control of the game. 

In its last exhibition game before the season opener, No. 5 Duke blitzed Livingstone 119-56 with four freshmen scoring in double digits. Kennard stole the spotlight—starting in place of the injured Matt Jones—and scored a game-high 25 points against the Blue Bears. His six 3-pointers illustrated the Franklin, Ohio, native’s shooting prowess and ability to stretch the floor for the Blue Devils. Kennard also had an impact on the other end of the court this week, averaging seven rebounds per game and playing solid defense in his first two exhibition contests.

The bad: With the freshman guard contributing both offensively and defensively in the two lopsided victories and nearly registering a double-double against the Blue Bears, it is hard to find a weak point in his performances. It remains to be seen if Kennard can stay in a good shooting rhythm over the course of the season. 

The bottom line: Kennard and his classmates are destined to carry the torch left behind by now-NBA players Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow—who led Duke to its fifth national title as freshmen a year ago. In their first two exhibition contests, the newcomers have shown that they are up to the task. With 39 points in his first two games wearing a Duke uniform, Kennard has proved that he will be one of the key pieces for the defending national champions this season and is more than capable of stuffing the stat sheet on the next level.

Honorable Mention: Freshman Brandon Ingram—the No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2015 according to ESPN— had a solid offensive game against the Blue Bears, dropping in 24 points in 27 minutes of action. The forward from Kinston, N.C. converted nine of his 12 attempts from the free-throw line and added five steals and two assists. The swingman has seen time all over the floor in the team's two exhibition victories and has averaged 20 points per game in the two exhibitions. 

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