CHAPEL HILL, NC — Hubert Davis had a loud and clear message for Walker Kessler at his introductory press conference on Tuesday.
“I want Walker here,” Davis said of the Tar Heel freshman who logged onto the transfer portal last month. “He’s a Carolina guy. I enjoyed being one of his coaches last year. He’s a wonderful kid. I can’t think of anyone better to be with. A charismatic and incredible personality. Someone who just wants to get better and work every day.” day.
“Kessler is a Carolina guy. I texted him last night … and I have a phone call with him later today. And what I’m going to tell him is I want him back here in Carolina. He’s a Tar Heel, He’s always a Tar Heel, he needs to come back here, and this is the right place for him. We’d love to have Walker Kessler and his family back in Chapel Hill and back at UNC. “
Kessler averaged 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds in 8.7 minutes off the bench this season. The 7-foot-1, Newnan, Georgia native announced his transfer on March 22, saying the following in a statement:
“While this season did not go as planned for our entire basketball community, the relationships that I have been able to develop this year will always mean the world to me,” Kessler said. “I am honored to have played in an incredible historic program like the one at the University of North Carolina. Everything I feel for my teammates, coaches, coaches, administration and staff is gratitude. During a very difficult year for all of us. , were able to help me grow as a player and most importantly as a person. After careful and calculated consideration, I will enter the transfer portal. I wish the entire Carolina family the best for years to come. Thank you Tar Heel Nation! “
In a crucial meeting in late February against No. 11 Florida State, Kessler’s 20 points (on 9-of-10 shooting), eight rebounds and four blocks played a significant role for UNC to overcome a 16-point deficit. The performance led to Kessler winning ACC Week Freshman honors. Two weeks later, Kessler scored 16 points (7 of 11 from the field), 12 rebounds, eight blocks and two steals against Notre Dame in Game 1 of the UNC ACC Tournament against Notre Dame. The block total set a Carolina ACC Tournament record and an ACC Tournament freshman record for blocks.
“I think once I get more comfortable I’ll be fine,” Kessler said at the end of the season. “And I think I can stretch the floor. I to know I’ll be able to stretch the floor. I think I can drive more. Obviously, that has not been presented very well. I think I’m not a big bruise guy, but I rush a lot so I can only get rebounds, steals, things like that. And I really think I have a lot of skill that has yet to be shown. I think I am more of a high-skill than anything else. “
Kessler, the Georgia State Consensus Player of the Year, a McDonald’s All-American and the 22nd High School Player of 2020 according to the 247Sports Composite, was a great addition, literally, to a Carolina recruiting class of six. men who ranked No. 2 in the nation. He chose UNC over the finalists Auburn, Cal, Duke, Gonzaga and Michigan. His brother, father, and uncle played basketball for the University of Georgia.