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Walker Kessler to Auburn

Kentucky was vying for the talented transfer but will instead have to face him next season.

Florida State v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

As the Kentucky Wildcats search for more bodies on the transfer market, one of their top frontcourt options is now off the board.

On Monday, North Carolina forward Walker Kessler announced his commitment to the Auburn Tigers. The Wildcats were reportedly in the mix for Kessler but never viewed as one of the favorites.

Gonzaga was initially believed to be the leader for the former five-star Class of 2020 recruit, while Auburn also got a lot of hype leading into decision day. There was also growing buzz Kessler could withdraw from the portal and return to Chapel Hill.

Instead, Kessler will now team up with top-10 Class of 2021 recruit Jabari Smith to form a very talented frontcourt for the Tigers.

The 7-1, 245-pound Kessler averaged 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds per game last season while playing in a loaded frontcourt, which featured an all-conference player in Garrison Brooks, a projected first-round pick in Day’Ron Sharpe, and another potential NBA Draft pick in Armando Bacot.

Ironically, Brooks has also entered the portal and drawn interest from Kentucky. Sharpe and Bacot are also testing the NBA Draft process, so the Tar Heels’ frontcourt is looking mighty bare at the moment.

The fact that Kentucky has even been recruiting Kessler and Brooks makes it seem like there’s not a good chance Keion Brooks Jr. is returning for a third year in Lexington. The frontcourt is already crowded with West Virginia transfer Oscar Tshiebwe and top-10 Class of 2021 recruit Daimion Collins likely commanding a lot of minutes.

Alas, if Kentucky is going to find more frontcourt depth, it won’t come from Kessler, who could become one of the better frontcourt players in the SEC next season.

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