CHAPEL HILL, NC — Hubert Davis had a loud and clear message for Walker Kessler at his inaugural press conference on Tuesday.
“I want Walker here,” Davis said of Tar Heel freshman who entered the transfer portal last month. “He’s a Carolina guy. I’ve enjoyed being one of his coaches last year. He’s a wonderful kid. Can’t think of anyone better to be with. An incredible, charismatic personality. Someone, who just wants to get better and work every day.
“Kessler is a Carolina guy. I texted him last night … and I have a phone call with him later today. And what I want to tell him is that I want him back here in Carolina. He is a tar heel, he̵
Kessler averaged 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds in 8.7 minutes from the bench this season. The 7-foot-1 Newnan, Ga. Native announced its transfer on March 22, saying the following in a statement:
“Even though this season did not go as planned for our entire basketball community, the conditions that I have been able to develop this year will forever mean the world to me,” said Kessler. “I am honored to have played for a great historical program like the University of North Carolina. Gratitude is all I feel for my teammates, coaches, coaches, administration and staff. In a very difficult year for all of us, they were able to help me grow as a player and most importantly as a person. After careful and deliberate consideration I will enter the transfer portal. I wish the entire Carolina family the absolute best in the years to come. Thank you Tar Heel Nation! “
In a crucial game in late February against Florida State No. 11, Kessler’s 20 points (by 9-of-10 shooting), eight rebounds and four blocks played a major role in the UNC overcoming a 16-point deficit. . The performance led to Kessler receiving the ACC Freshman of the Week awards. Two weeks later, Kessler sent 16 points (7-for-11 from the court), 12 rebounds, eight blocks and two steals vs. Notre Dame in UNC’s ACC tournament opener against Notre Dame. The overall block set a Carolina ACC tournament record and an ACC tournament first-year record for blocks.
“I just think that when I get more comfortable, I feel good,” Kessler said late in the season. “And I think I will be able to stretch the floor. I know I can stretch the floor. I think I can drive more. It has obviously not presented itself very well. I think I’m not really a big bruise type, but I need it very hard, so just being able to get crowded, rebellious, crowded, things like that. And I really think I have a lot of skill that has not really been shown yet. I think I’m more skilled than anything else. ”
This year’s consensus in the state of Georgia, a McDonald’s All-American, and the No. 22 ranked player in high school in 2020 per. 247Sports Composite, Kessler was a great addition – literally – to a six-man Carolina recruiting class that was ranked No. 2 in the nation. He chose UNC over finalists Auburn, Cal, Duke, Gonzaga and Michigan. His brother, father and uncle all played basketball for the University of Georgia.