Remember two years ago, when Auburn went to the Final Four? It was awesome, and it was also the last time that North Carolina was worth anything. Now, maybe that’s not fair, since we’ve had a canceled college basketball postseason (wherein the Tar Heels went just 14-19 and would’ve missed the NCAA Tournament had there been one), and then this odd 2020-2021 season as well. Still, UNC coach emeritus Roy Williams only got the Tar Heels into the Big Dance this season as an 8-seed, where Wisconsin sent them home with an 85-62 defeat.
Point stands, since Auburn dethroned the top-seeded Tar Heels in 2019 in an absolute blowout, they’ve been struggling, and it happened again today to Auburn’s benefit.
former 5-star big man Walker Kessler is transferring to Auburn from North Carolina, per his Instagram page pic.twitter.com/FUm3FZOh84— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) April 12, 2021
Kessler committed to North Carolina after many thought he was down to an Auburn/Georgia battle for the top player out of the Peach State in last year’s class. Out of nowhere, he visited Chapel Hill and committed on the spot. Fast forward to this year’s madness with the transfer portal and the temporary rules regarding player fluidity, and Roy Williams retires due in large part to concerns with the future of the game (ie. it’s gonna be tougher to drop a bag and get a kid to commit). It’s alright, if you didn’t know it already, know that Tar Heel fans are largely like Alabama fans. Hardly any of them went to the school, and they’re extremely entitled despite no connection to UNC in the slightest.
However Kessler ended up in Chapel Hill, it matters now that he’s heading back home and will move to the Plains. Ostensibly, he’d be coming in to start, not to ride the pine. However the combination on the floor, Auburn will move from the nation’s youngest team this past season to what will be one of the nation’s tallest teams in 2021-2022.
Kessler’s arrival only cements Bruce Pearl’s legacy as an a devil in Georgia when it comes to recruiting.
according to the 247Sports Composite, Sharife Cooper was the highest-rated signee in Auburn basketball history— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) April 12, 2021
he leaves this offseason, and Auburn adds two players with even higher recruit ratings
1. Jabari Smith (0.9985)
2. Walker Kessler (0.9923)
3. Sharife Cooper (0.9920)
The Tigers’ frontcourt will now have two consensus five-star players, both the last two Players of the Year in Georgia, and should provide an absolutely shadowing presence under the basket. With some of the other talent coming in, Auburn should be very good and a preseason top 25 team. We’ll have more on the possible rosters and the final pieces that could be coming in to add to the team as the week goes on.
For now, Walker Kessler comes back home as the Coweta County Kristaps to give the Tigers a much-needed boost this offseason. Auburn will have absolute firepower when it comes to the recruiting rankings, and Bruce Pearl should have some stellar pieces to work with. He just has to find the right mixture to take Auburn back to the top of the SEC.