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Former 5-Star C Walker Kessler Announces Transfer to Auburn from UNC

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2021

North Carolina forward Walker Kessler (13) grabs a rebound over Louisville forward JJ Traynor (12) while North Carolina guard Anthony Harris (0) reaches in during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome/Associated Press

Walker Kessler's time with the North Carolina Tar Heels is over after one season.

On Monday, the big man used his Instagram page to announce he is transferring to the Auburn Tigers. He message read: "I am excited to play for a great coach at an awesome school and be close to home and my family. War eagle!"

Kessler was a 5-star prospect and the No. 22 overall player in the 2020 recruiting class, per 247Sports' composite rankings.

Brendan Marks of The Athletic noted Auburn, led by head coach Bruce Pearl, was one one of Kessler's finalists during the recruiting process before he chose the Tar Heels.

The Georgia native did not live up to the expectations that came with being such a highly regarded prospect during his one season with North Carolina. He averaged 4.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 8.8 minutes a night over 29 games.

The Tar Heels lost to Wisconsin by 23 points in the first round of the 2021 men's NCAA tournament, and Kessler finished with two points and one rebound in 13 minutes.

His best performance came when he notched a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds along with eight blocks during an ACC tournament win over Notre Dame. He also posted 20 points, eight rebounds and four blocks in a February win over Florida State but was unable to establish much consistency throughout his brief tenure.

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Kessler joins an Auburn team coming off a disappointing 13-14 effort during the 2020-21 campaign, although the Tigers went to the 2019 Final Four and would have been a contender for another long run had there been a Big Dance in 2020 given their 25-6 record.

If Kessler lives up to the expectations that accompanied him when he arrived at North Carolina, he can help Auburn quickly return to form and compete in the SEC.