NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It’s been a pretty good 2022 for Luke Kornet.
The former Vanderbilt star is coming off his fifth NBA season, a season that included an NBA finals appearance, and is expecting a second child later this year. Along with his wife and 16-month old, Kornet recently dropped by his old stomping grounds to reminiscence on how far he has come and where he started.
“At the beginning it’s so hard just to make it and make an impact in whatever way you can,” Kornet said. “I think that settles a little bit to understanding more of who you are as a person and also now having a family, those responsibilities become a lot more. It’s about wanting to make a difference in a lot of ways off the court – you take your job seriously and you know what your responsibilities are, but there is definitely a sense of what else can I bring and who am I as a person with family and trying to integrate all those things as best you can.”
Kornet will head back to Boston in September to begin what he hopes is his first full season with the defending Eastern Conference champion Celtics. The 7-foot-2, 250-pound forward played for Cleveland and Milwaukee, respectively, before playing 12 regular-season contests for Boston to end the campaign.
Kornet played nine games during Boston’s playoff run, which ended with a series loss to Golden State.
“It was an awesome year with Boston and the Finals run. That was a really special experience. I’m excited to go back and try to get there again,” Kornet said. “You’re so in the midst of it that round by round you’re just trying to beat the opponent at hand because nothing is guaranteed. Then you look up and it’s, ‘Oh, we’re the only two teams left.’ ”
An All-SEC and All-SEC Defensive selection as a senior, Kornet averaged 8.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocked during his career as a Commodore. He signed with the New York Knicks in 2017 as an undrafted free agent and made his NBA debut seven months later.
Kornet now has 148 regular-season games of NBA experience and has spent time with the Knicks and Chicago as well.
A Nashville resident, Kornet actually competed against Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse when Kornet played in the G League and when Stackhouse was the head coach of Raptors 905. Kornet has watched intently and excitedly how the Commodores have begun to rise in competitiveness over the last few seasons.
“It’s an exciting time,” Kornet said. “I care so much more about the people and the relationships and the importance of having stability there. The significance there is what excites me about it. I just really love seeing Stack bringing in new guys and then seeing them go through their careers and just being able to relate with them.
“It’s a wild road from when you come in as a freshman and then leaving as a senior. It’s a cool thing to keep track of and make connections there.”
The son of another former Vanderbilt basketball great in Frank Kornet, Luke Kornet attended high school in Texas before becoming a Commodore. He ended his career by being named second-team Academic All-America by CoSIDA and the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
“It’s nice to come back here, it’s funny sometimes thinking about the mornings and nights in the gym as an 18-year-old to now,” he said. “It’s amazing how different it is, but also how Vanderbilt is still a part of both now and then.”
— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt Athletics for VUCommodores.com.
Follow him @MrChadBishop.