AUBURN, Ala. – Walker Kessler has signed an Athletics Financial Aid Agreement to play basketball next season at Auburn University, head coach Bruce Pearl announced Monday. Kessler, who played his freshman season at the University of North Carolina, will join the Tigers for the upcoming 2021-22 season and have four years of eligibility remaining.

“Sometimes things take time and they are better with patience,” Pearl said. “We were recruiting Walker since he was a sophomore and we were one of the first schools to offer him. The first time we ever laid eyes on him was at our team camp. That was the beginning of our relationship. It’s been so much fun to watch Walker work, train and develop into a state champion and a 5-star prospect.

“One of Walker’s greatest assets is his family with that love and that relationship. We both know the feeling that with our family we can accomplish anything. Kind of like an artist, I’m just excited to get my hands on a piece of clay. He’s a 7-foot-1, stretch 5-man who will be a joy to play call for and utilize as a mismatch.”

A 7-foot-1, 245-pound forward/center, Kessler averaged 4.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game while shooting 58 percent from the floor during the 2020-21 season for the Tar Heels.

The Newnan, Ga. native pulled down 94 total rebounds, 45 of which came on the offensive glass, good for 48 percent. Kessler also boasted a 10.6 block percentage, which sat inside the top 20 nationally.

Over his last 11 games this past season, Kessler averaged 8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per contest and shot 63 percent.

Kessler had a standout performance vs. Notre Dame in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament with 16 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks. His eight blocks set the ACC Tournament freshman record.

The former consensus 5-star, top-25 prospect and McDonald’s All-American played at Woodward Academy in College Park, Ga. and led the school to its first state title in its 120-year history.

Kessler averaged 17.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5.2 blocked shots, 1.3 steals and 1.2 assists as a senior and earned a plethora of honors, including the Gatorade High School Player of the Year, Georgia’s Mr. Basketball and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Georgia Player of the Year.

He put up career totals of 2,003 points, 1,185 rebounds and 524 blocks as a prep.

Kessler also gained experience by participating in the 2019 mini camp for the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team.

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