Just a few weeks ago, Luke Kornet was set to go to SMU to play basketball, thanks to a good amount of money offered in academic scholarships.
But with a stroke of good fortune and a couple of good showings at some AAU tournaments, the 6-foot-10 Liberty Christian senior will now be living a dream, of sorts, after he committed to play college basketball at Vanderbilt, where both of his parents attended college and where his dad starred on the basketball court.
“It’s definitely special,” Kornet said. “It didn’t play into the decision much, though. I’d been to the school before and knew about it. I love the campus and had always kind of rooted for the team. I applied as a student, but I never really thought about playing there.”
That’s because, for a while, Kornet was flying under the radar of major conference programs, but after a two-week run with the AAU Texas Select team, he was suddenly getting scholarship offers from all over the country before choosing Vanderbilt over Kansas State, Purdue and TCU.
Kornet averaged 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists for the Warriors, who were defeated by Fort Worth Nolan Catholic in the TAPPS 5A state semifinal, to earn first-team all-district and first-team all-state honors. He also averaged three blocks per game while shooting 44 percent beyond the 3-point arc.
Frank Kornet, Luke’s father and the Liberty Christian head coach, played at Vanderbilt before a two-year NBA career with the Milwaukee Bucks. In his four seasons with the Commodores, Kornet averaged 20.6 minutes, 8.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. As a senior, he averaged 16.8 points and 7.1 boards per game.
It was Frank and his wife, Tracy — who he met in college at Vanderbilt and is now a news anchor for KTVT Channel 11 in Fort Worth — who decided to call up the former summer coach of their daughter, Nicole, who just completed her freshman season at Oklahoma, for some help in getting Luke some more college interest.
The coach knew of Texas Select and their upcoming schedule of spring showcase events. Luke, who had been out of basketball for about six weeks and playing golf and high jumping in track and field, practiced with the team twice before playing in a tournament in Arkansas in front of dozens of national scouts. The scouts liked what they saw.
“After that weekend, my phone and Luke’s phone exploded,” Frank Kornet said. “It was constant. We had couple of more practices, and I knew he’d be out of shape because he’d been in golf, but the next weekend we were playing in Minnesota and 50-80 Division I were coaches there.
“From there it just got totally out of control, but it was a good kind of ‘out of control.’”
Luke Kornet said he was just hoping to pick up some mid-major offers and get his name out there by playing in the tournaments. What happened was a complete shock.
“I thought I played well in that first tournament, and a lot of people I guess saw potential in me,” he said. “I just took it for what it was, and I went and played the next week without really thinking about it. I wasn’t really prepared for all of this. I wasn’t expecting it to go to the magnitude it did, but it all really took off.”
Kornet, 17, is still growing and knows he needs to gain some weight. His father said he is amazed by how much his son has changed physically in the six short weeks since the Warriors were beaten in the state tournament.
He expects his son, who has shown he is a lethal 3-point shooter, to play a “Stretch-4” position in college, a bit of an ever-evolving position of a big man who can shoot from the outside but possesses the ability to score from the post, as well.
“It’s going to be fun watching him,” Frank Kornet said. “He has an unbelievable upside as he gets bigger and stronger, and he has to do that. Height is one thing you can’t coach — you either have it or you don’t. He has all the skills that come with it. It’s going to be a lot of fun watching him develop as a player.”
Frank Kornet, who was an all-SEC performer for the Commodores, said he has tried to stay out of his kids’ decisions as to where they play college basketball, but it is special to see his son continuing his career in his old stomping grounds.
Luke Kornet said the decision was all his, but it adds a little nostalgia knowing both of his parents attended the university in Nashville, Tenn.
“I always knew about the school and it felt like a little part of me,” Luke Kornet said. “I hear stories about it all the time, so it’s like I’ve already been there. It’s a really unique thing. Nashville’s a great city and has a great atmosphere. To know my parents felt that first hand is just top notch. I look forward to it, and I’m excited I’ll be playing there. It should be fun.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.