Hubert Davis made a public plea to get Walker Kessler back at UNC.
But even a public sales pitch from the new coach didn’t work. On Monday, Kessler announced he would be playing basketball at Auburn, not North Carolina, next season.
Kessler entered the transfer portal at the conclusion of the season and will get a fresh start under Bruce Pearl in the SEC.
“I am excited to play for a great coach at an awesome school and be close to home and my family,” Kessler wrote on Instagram. “War eagle!”
Kessler was a five-star center and the top player in Georgia coming out of Woodward Academy. Auburn was one of Kessler’s finalists before ultimately settling on UNC. In one season in Chapel Hill, Kessler (7-1, 245) played in 29 games, averaging 4.4 points per game. He scored a career-high 20 points in an upset win over Florida State on Feb. 27. In his first ACC tournament game, Kessler had a double double (16 points, 12 rebounds) in a win over Notre Dame.
With Kessler, Garrison Brooks, Sterling Manley and Walker Miller all in the transfer portal and Armando Bacot testing the NBA waters, UNC is short on post players currently. Freshman Day’Ron Sharpe entered the NBA draft and hired an agent, meaning he has forfeited his college eligibility.
At his introductory press conference, Davis told the media he wanted Kessler in Chapel Hill and that he had a phone call set up with Kessler that evening. But Kessler ultimately chose the Tigers over returning to the Tar Heels.