Sought-after center Walker Kessler, one of the top players in the men's basketball transfer portal, commits to Auburn Tigers

ByJeff Borzello ESPN logo
Tuesday, April 13, 2021

North Carolina transfer Walker Kessler, one of the best available players in the portal, announced his commitment to Auburn on Monday.

Kessler was also heavily pursued by Gonzaga and considered a return to North Carolina.

Coming out of high school, the two leaders for Kessler were perceived to be Duke and Auburn, taking official visits to both campuses. But Kessler then took an official visit to North Carolina, and by the end of the weekend in Chapel Hill, Kessler was ready to commit to the Tar Heels.

Once Kessler hit the transfer portal late last month, Bruce Pearl and Auburn jumped back in the mix for Kessler. Gonzaga was viewed as the early leader, but the Zags are the favorites for No. 1 prospect Chet Holmgren and could also get All-American big man Drew Timme back for another season. After Hubert Davis was promoted to replace Roy Williams at North Carolina, Davis spoke publicly about trying to recruit Kessler back to Chapel Hill.

But Auburn won out, and now the Tigers have one of the best frontcourts in the country. Kessler joins elite recruit Jabari Brown and playmaking wing forward Allen Flanigan.

A 7-foot-1 center from Georgia, Kessler averaged just 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds during his freshman season with the Tar Heels. However, he came on strong late in the season. Kessler had a four-game stretch in February in which he scored in double figures in each one, including 20 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks in a comeback win over Florida State. He also dominated Notre Dame in the ACC tournament, going for 16 points, 12 rebounds and 8 blocks.

Kessler was a McDonald's All American coming out of high school, ranking No. 14 in the ESPN 100 for the 2020 class.