Auburn's Kessler declares for draft

By: The Associated Press
Published: Monday, April 4, 2022
Auburn forward Walker Kessler (13) dunks against Georgia during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
(AP / Butch Dill )
Auburn forward Walker Kessler (13) dunks against Georgia during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn center Walker Kessler, who was chosen the nation's top defensive player, plans to enter the NBA draft.

The 7-foot-1 North Carolina transfer announced his decision Sunday on social media. Kessler averaged 11.4 points and 8.1 rebounds and ranked second nationally with 4.6 blocked shots per game.

The sophomore helped lead Auburn to the program's first No. 1 ranking and a regular-season Southeastern Conference title in his lone season with the Tigers.

Kessler is widely considered to be a potential first-round pick, but he has until June 1 to withdraw from the draft.

Auburn freshman forward Jabari Smith, regarded as a potential No. 1 pick, hasn't announced his decision yet.

Kessler was named the Naismith Men's Defensive player of the year on Sunday, an award given by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

Kessler was a first-team All-SEC performer and third-team Associated Press All-American. He had a pair of triple-doubles in the season, reaching double digits in points, rebounds and blocks.

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