Heel Tough Blog: Walker Kessler Spurns UNC, Headed to Auburn

Updated: Apr 13

The Monday after the season ending loss to Wisconsin, Walker Kessler entered the transfer portal. It was a week and a half later when Hall of Fame head coach Roy Williams announced his retirement, admitting that the transfer of Kessler “confirmed” his decision to retire from coaching. The following Tuesday, Hubert Davis was introduced as the 19th head coach in Carolina Basketball history, and made it known he wanted Kessler back in Chapel Hill. Today, after a week’s worth of recruiting the former 5 star big man from Georgia, has decided to continue his college basketball career at Auburn, instead of UNC, as the pull to be close to home was too much to overcome.



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One of the many reasons Kessler transferred was that he didn’t like the way he was used during his freshman season. Kessler views himself as a modern big man, meaning he’s capable of being effective away from the basket. Roy Williams disagreed, playing Kessler in the post while coming off the bench. Hubert Davis has made it known that Carolina is going to play differently under him, while keeping the basketball philosophy of both Dean Smith and Roy Williams. That is believed to be a modern style of basketball, smaller lineups, and utilizing bigs away from the basket. Kessler was sold on UNC as being used the same way that Luke Maye was used his final two seasons on campus, and in the 2017 run to the national championship. That didn’t happen under the former Hall of Fame head coach, and it appears it’ll happen under Bruce Pearl instead of Hubert Davis.


While missing out on Kessler definitely hurts, Carolina knew all along that was a possibility. What this does though, is continue to cloud the future of the front court for the foreseeable future. Since the season ended, and the retirement of Roy Williams, the Tar Heels have lost Walker Kessler, Garrison Brooks, Sterling Manley, and Walker Miller all to the transfer portal. Not to mention Day’Ron Sharpe declaring for the NBA Draft, and Armando Bacot going through the NBA Draft process, while maintaining his remaining college eligibility. That means that Carolina could potentially lose 6 players from their front court, which was the strength of the team last season. UNC wants to play a more modern style of basketball under its new head coach, that potential mass exodus of talent, might leave them with a choice.


UNC has a number of scholarships available, but doesn’t mean they’ll be able to bring in talent, as they learned in losing out on Walker Kessler. Hubert Davis is still in the process of finalizing his staff, but successfully landed Virginia transfer Justin McKoy over the weekend. Expect a larger focus on Charlotte product Jonas Aidoo, who decommitted from Marquette, but has yet to receive an offer from his home state school. Hubert Davis displayed a tireless effort to try and bring Kessler back to Chapel Hill, he’ll now have to recruit just as hard, if not harder to continue to fill his roster with talent.


Make sure to stay tuned to the Heel Tough Blog for all your latest Carolina Basketball recruiting news


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