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The Utah Jazz’s Summer League roster features a notable connection to the University of North Carolina’s basketball program through two former players, Walker Kessler and Armando Bacot, both from the 2020-21 season. Kessler, now in his third year as a professional after stints at both UNC and Auburn, made a significant impact in the Jazz’s recent Summer League game despite his limited role during his time at Chapel Hill.

During Monday night’s matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies at the Salt Lake City Summer League, Kessler demonstrated his growth and potential on the court. As a backup to Bacot during his freshman year at UNC, Kessler saw his role expand dramatically in his sophomore year at Auburn, where he became a full-time starter and vastly increased his statistical output. In the game against Memphis, the 22-year-old center, drafted by the Jazz as the 22nd overall pick in 2022, showcased his versatility with an impressive performance: he scored 10 points, grabbed six rebounds, recorded two steals, and blocked five shots in 33 minutes of play. His contributions were pivotal in Utah’s narrow 97-95 overtime victory.

On the other hand, Bacot, who is 24 years old, recently went undrafted but secured an Exhibit 10 contract with the Jazz for the Summer League. Despite not seeing action in the close contest against Memphis, Bacot’s experience as UNC’s all-time leading rebounder and a consistent double-double performer positions him as a potential asset for the Jazz moving forward. His readiness to contribute could be tested in upcoming games, such as the matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he might have an opportunity to showcase his skills alongside his former Tar Heel teammate Cormac Ryan.

Ryan, a 25-year-old wing player, adds another layer of UNC representation on the Jazz’s Summer League squad. His familiarity with Bacot from their time together at UNC provides potential chemistry on the court, which could prove beneficial as they navigate through the Summer League competition.

For fans and analysts alike, the presence of Kessler, Bacot, and Ryan on the Jazz’s Summer League roster offers a glimpse into the pipeline of talent from collegiate programs to the professional ranks. Each player brings a unique skill set and collegiate pedigree, underscoring their potential impact as they vie for roster spots and developmental opportunities with the Jazz and other NBA teams.

As the Summer League progresses, all eyes will be on how these former UNC standouts adapt to the demands of NBA-level competition and contribute to their respective teams’ aspirations for the upcoming season and beyond.

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