Auburn may have missed out on Walker Kessler the first time around but that just made finally signing the big man that much sweeter, according to Bruce Pearl.

On Monday, Auburn officially announced the signing of the 7-foot-1 North Carolina transfer that has four seasons of eligibility remaining for the Tigers. Kessler signed with UNC after being rated as a five-star prospect in the 2020 recruiting cycle.

“Sometimes things take time and they are better with patience,” Pearl said in a released statement. “We were recruiting Walker since he was a sophomore and we were one of the first schools to offer him. The first time we ever laid eyes on him was at our team camp. That was the beginning of our relationship. It’s been so much fun to watch Walker work, train and develop into a state champion and a 5-star prospect.

“One of Walker’s greatest assets is his family with that love and that relationship. We both know the feeling that with our family we can accomplish anything. Kind of like an artist, I’m just excited to get my hands on a piece of clay. He’s a 7-foot-1, stretch 5-man who will be a joy to play call for and utilize as a mismatch.”

During his only with the Tar Heels, Walker averaged 4.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game for North Carolina. While his overall totals may not stand out, Walker played his best basketball at the end of the season.

In his only appearance in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, Walker scored 16 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had eight blocks against Notre Dame in UNC’s 101-59 win over the Fighting Irish.