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Five-star Walker Kessler hearing from Duke, North Carolina

RANKINGS: 2019 Rivals150 | 2020 Rivals150 | 2019 Team Rankings

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Walker Kessler

Walker Kessler’s recruitment took off as much as any prospect during the 2018 calendar year, and 2019 is off to a pretty good start for him as well. Duke came through with a scholarship offer already and he knocked out a really successful official visit to Virginia as he saw the Cavaliers beat ninth-ranked Florida State 65-52.

The official visit to Virginia was the third of the five-star prospect’s five official visits this year as he’s already seen Michigan and Vanderbilt. He’s also been on campus at Georgia recently for an unofficial visit. Since receiving the offer from Duke, North Carolina has come back into the picture and should be stopping by to see him soon.

IN HIS OWN WORDS

Kessler broke down his Virginia visit, the Duke offer and more.

Virginia: “It was awesome. It was awesome. I loved the coaching staff and I loved coach (Tony) Bennett. I obviously got to watch them beat FSU pretty bad. Their defense is something else and it’s fun to watch. It stood out a lot how hard they all played and I think that says a lot about coach Bennett if all your players play that hard.

“He said he doesn’t really recruit five-stars, but he said I’m different because he feels like he has a connection with me. He said he knows unlike Vanderbilt or Michigan, he hasn’t really had a player like me. He said, ‘Listen, we get that, but we will still let you do all the things you do’ and he showed me film of a bunch of different aspects of different players. I was surprised because I went in thinking I was just going to see what he had to say and I left 100 percent confident I would be successful if I go there.

“Coach Bennett is a great guy and a great coach. I have a ton of respect for him, no doubt.”

Duke: “The assistant coach called and told me Coach K was going to call the next day and then he did and we talked for like an hour. He said he doesn’t usually offer guys over the phone, but he did offer me then. He said that he was very surprised when he watched me in L.A. that I was 7-foot and could dribble and shoot, but he said the biggest thing was he thinks I am a smart player. I thought he recognized all the things I take pride, so that was great.

“It’s obviously a historic program and I have very high interest in Duke. I’ll probably take an official visit there at some point.”

North Carolina: “UNC is starting to talk to me more since I got the Duke offer. They just said they are trying to finish their 2019 class, but they are still interested. They are going to come down to see me soon and I told I still have very high interest in them and would love that. Coach (Roy) Williams said they will be down to my school soon.”

Georgia: “I went to a game there. It’s only two hours away and my brother is still in the law school there so I go up there a lot. I’ve been watching them a little bit this year. They took a tough one to Tennessee the other day. It looks like they have a lot of freedom in that offense. I like how they have used Nicolas Claxton and let him dribble and shoot.”

RIVALS' REACTION

Kessler has now taken three of his five official visits, but maintains he’s still wide open in the process. Virginia fans should be excited about the impression Tony Bennett and his program made on the Georgia native this weekend. The Hoos have as good of a shot as anybody right now to sign Kessler in the 2020 class. Vanderbilt and Michigan also remain serious players here as Bryce Drew and John Beilein have done great work in connecting with him so far.

The offer from Duke and increased interest from North Carolina are absolutely worth monitoring here. It shouldn’t be considered a foregone conclusion he would pick one of them like it is with many recruits who get offers from bluebloods, but the interest is definitely mutual. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see both get official visits before the end of his junior year. Georgia is still in this race too given his family ties to the school.

Look for Kessler to take his last two visits at some point in the upcoming months and then it is possible he starts moving closer to a decision or at least narrowing down his focus to a few schools. Right now, he’s still open to all schools.