Luke Kornet was not supposed to get recruited by the Vanderbilt men’s basketball team. In fact, before April of this year the Argyle, Texas, native didn’t have an offer from a single Division 1 school.
A sudden growth spurt during the last two years of high school quickly changed that.
During his freshman and sophomore years of high school, Kornet measured around 6-foot-2 and generally played as a shooting guard. However, by the end of his senior year at Liberty Christian School, a growth spurt left him standing 6-foot-10. Kornet quickly became one of the centers for his team and averaged 15 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots during his senior season.
“I was always an outside shooter, which I still did during my senior year, but I was kind of like our center, which is a lot different,” Kornet said. “I still have some of the perimeter skills, so I can handle the ball all right and I can shoot” — two abilities that centers typically don’t have.
Thanks to his unusual combination of agile ball-handling skills and towering height, Kornet was chosen to play on the Texas Select AAU team in April during his senior year. Over several weeks, he competed in tournaments in Arkansas and Minnesota, and his great performance quickly caught the attention of several schools, including Vanderbilt.
“I didn’t have a single D1 offer until April, and then once I played in those (AAU) tournaments there was a lot of different interest from a lot of schools,” Kornet said. “I definitely had a different recruiting process than most people because it was basically three weeks from the time I got calls to when I decided (what school to attend).”
Kornet chose Vanderbilt over offers from Kansas State, TCU and Purdue. However, he had hoped to go to Vanderbilt before playing collegiate basketball had even become a possibility.
“Vanderbilt was always a school I had been familiar with. We (Kornet and his family) always stopped by when we were driving (nearby),” Kornet said. “I wanted to go to school here even if I didn’t play basketball.”
In fact, both of Kornet’s parents, Frank and Tracy, attended Vanderbilt. Frank played on the men’s basketball team from 1985-89 and was named an all-SEC player his senior year on the team. After he graduated, he was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks and played two years in the NBA.
“Some people do remember my dad ... (but) I’m a very different player than he was.” Kornet said. “I don’t really feel any of the pressure. I’m just going to go out and play the way I play.”
Even though Kornet doesn’t feel pressured by his father’s success, he said he still needs more preparation before he’s completely ready to play SEC basketball. He eats four or five meals a day and lifts weights in hopes of adding more weight to his skinny frame, and since joining the team this summer he’s already put on 20 pounds.
“I definitely have to transform a lot to get ready for SEC (play) because those are some big guys playing,” he said.
Whether he feels prepared or not, Kornet may soon get an opportunity to make his own mark on the Vanderbilt men’s basketball team, which lost four players over the summer. The Commodores open play in an exhibition game against Alabama-Huntsville on Wednesday, Nov. 6.
“Originally, it seemed like I probably was going to be redshirting, but now it looks quite the opposite,” Kornet said. “I’ll be ready to play if that’s what (the team) needs from me.”
Ben Weinrib contributed to this report.