MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Auburn University forward Walker Kessler was selected with the No. 22 overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies marking the second Tiger to be selected in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft.
Kessler will play for the Timberwolves after Minnesota after the Grizzlies trade the No. 22 and 29 overall pick for the 19th, whom they selected Wake Forest’s Jake LaRavia.
Kessler, a 7-foot, 1-inch physical specimen, showcased his freakishly athletic frame with the most blocks in Division 1 basketball with 155, good for 4.56 blocks per game. In two seasons, Kessler played 63 career games, but made a major jump in production in every statistical category in his sophomore campaign. He earned Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year last year.
Kessler played nearly 18 more minutes per game while averaging 11.4 points, good for seven more than 2020-21. Kessler’s 8.1 rebounds per game ranked third among all Southeastern conference players and first for blocks.
With the selection, Coach Bruce Pearl has produced two first-round picks from the 2021-22 Tigers team marking the first time in program history. This is the fifth first-round selection for the Tigers since the 2019 NBA Draft joining Jabari Smith (2022, No. 3), Davion Mitchell (2021, No. 9), Isaac Okoro (2020, No. 5), Chuma Okeke (2019, No. 16). Auburn has produced seven NBA draftees in that span including 2021 second-round picks Sharife Cooper and J.T. Thor.
Thor was taken No. 37 overall by the Detroit Pistons while Cooper was drafted No. 48 overall to the Atlanta Hawks.