The kid who was UGA’s “Plan B” to Tony Parker kept checking on his cell phone for updates on Monday.
And checking again.
And checking a few more times.
Finally at the conclusion of Parker’s infamous 57-minute commitment ceremony in which he ripped off his jacket to reveal a UCLA t-shirt, the “Plan B” could go into effect. Houston Kessler, whose father and late uncle played basketball for UGA, signed with Bulldogs on Tuesday night and faxed in the paperwork on Wednesday.
Back to Kessler: After losing some sleep over the last week while pondering his future, he could finally celebrate when Parker picked up the UGA baseball cap and quickly put it back down during Monday’s “The Decision II.”
“I was anxious, and probably lost a little sleep and some focus at school, but I wasn’t extremely worried,” Kessler told the AJC. “I mean, I knew I had other options if it didn’t work out. It wasn’t like life or death. But I’m excited that it did.”
UGA coach Mark Fox was direct and honest to the 6-foot-8 forward about where he sat on the food chain: They wanted Parker. And if it didn’t work out with the AJC’s Mr. Basketball, then Kessler was the backup plan.
“Coach Fox said we really want you but we can’t send you the scholarship right now – and that’s because of Tony Parker,” Kessler said.
Kessler took sort of a gamble to wait on UGA. He had around 15 scholarship offers, including Mississippi State, Buffalo, Furman, William & Mary, among other schools. Every day that passed without Parker signing in the late period, Kessler was at risk of losing one of his options.
“But the thing is, none of the other schools really gave me an ultimatum,” Kessler said. “Maybe all of this would’ve turned out different if Mississippi State or another school would have said, ‘If you don’t sign by this day, we’re going to go with somebody else.’ But they never did.”
Kessler was thrilled with how it turned out, even if he was “Plan B” and a sideshow to perhaps the most infamous signing ceremony in state basketball history.
“I mean, the ‘Plan B’ thing doesn’t bother me that much,” Kessler said. “I’m just real excited to go and play there. But I’m not going to say it doesn’t bother me at all. Nobody wants to be referred to as a ‘Plan B.’ I’m going to go there, work hard and hopefully make people remember me for other things. I’m excited about the opportunity.”
For a story on Houston Kessler by the AJC’s Chip Towers, please go here.
WHILE WAITING FOR TONY PARKER’S CEREMONY TO END …
DID YOU SEE A STEPHENSON KID GOT DRAFTED IN THE 1ST ROUND?
AJC’S INSTANT RECRUITING CLASSICS
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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