FRANKLIN, Ohio — Franklin will always be home to Luke Kennard.
"I can’t even put into words how incredible the City of Franklin has been to me," Kennard told WCPO in a Twitter direct message Wednesday night. "The support I have had from everyone is more that I could’ve ever expected and the memories will last forever."
The Detroit Pistons guard and 2015 Franklin High School graduate will add another accolade to his Ohio basketball legacy as the Franklin City School District plans to soon retire his No. 10 Wildcats basketball jersey.
Kennard, 24, is scheduled to start his fourth NBA season this winter. Kennard and Franklin continue to be linked each year.
"We would love to see his basketball jersey hanging from our rafters," Franklin boys basketball coach and athletic director Brian Bales said.
"It would be a really special thing for not only him but for our basketball program and community."
Kennard wore No. 5 his freshman season at Franklin and then wore No. 10 his final three seasons.
"Coach Bales created a culture at Franklin that has allowed me to to be who I am today," Kennard said.
Kennard is the second Franklin graduate this month to have his high school jersey scheduled to be retired. Major League Baseball pitcher Travis Lakinswill also soon have his jersey number retired.
"We're excited," Bales said. "The school is proud of both him and Travis. We're really excited about the news today."
Kennard is No. 3 on the Ohio High School Athletic Association's all-time career points list.
Kennard scored 2,977 career points from 2011 to 2015. That's 131 points more than Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, who starred at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary from 1999 to 2003.
Kennard averaged 38.4 points, 10 rebounds and five assists his senior season as Franklin (26-2) was a Division II regional runner-up in 2015.
Kennard, a two-time Ohio Mr. Basketball winner, was just the sixth player in Ohio to win the AP Mr. Basketball award more than once since it started in 1988.
He was named the Parade National Player of the Year his senior season.
“What he has done since he left (Franklin) – I don’t want to say it’s surprising because we always knew he was special – but at times you just sit back and just smile and you beam with pride,” Bales told WCPO in 2019.
“Not only for how good he plays and his success on the court but how he carries himself off the court.”
Kennard continues to support the Franklin boys and girls basketball programs. He gives shoes each season to the programs.
He also recently bought a shooting machine within the past month for the boys and girls programs.
"He loves to give back," Bales said.
Franklin and his family have always been on Kennard's basketball journey.
"My family has been my biggest supporters and I cannot thank them enough," Kennard said. "With everything that I’ve been through, from playing ball at Duke to now being in the NBA, I will always be just a kid from Franklin, Ohio!"
The Franklin City School District said only four Wildcats have had jersey numbers retired including Bob Timberlake (No. 60, football); Alan Wenglikowski (No. 20, football); Doug Long (No. 14, baseball); and Nick Monk (No. 37, football).
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Kennard will be honored in a small ceremony and later recognized publicly during an appropriate time.
"We are proud and thankful," said Mark Kennard, Luke's father. "It's hard to believe Luke has been out of high school five years."