Kessler, UGA legacy, saves dad some grief

Chad Kessler breathed a big sigh of relief this morning. Not because his son Houston Kessler (Fairburn, Ga./Landmark Christian) signed his letter of intent to play for the Bulldogs, thus following in his father’s footsteps and those of his famous uncle, Alec Kessler. No, Chad Kessler is relieved today that he won’t have to wear orange.

“When Houston went up to Clemson right before he decided he wanted to go to Georgia, they grilled him about Georgia,” Kessler said. “They asked him, ‘Are you a Georgia guy? Are you a red and black guy? Are you going to bleed orange when you come here?’ It is so ingrained in him and his family that they know it is hard to get that out of there. And I am thrilled he doesn’t have to get Georgia out of his system.

“I didn’t want to have to buy a new wardrobe. I would have had to clean out my closet -- all my hats and everything would have had to change and I didn’t want to do that. So it worked out for the best.”

With the wardrobe crisis averted, Chad Kessler said his son also saved him some grief from the fans by not picking the Bulldogs’ archrival.

“At some point during this process when he had some interest from Georgia Tech, I was talking to my dad about it,” Kessler said. “I said, ‘Tech is a good school and it will be fine.’ And my dad said, ‘No, you will have to answer for that for years. Everyone is going to blame you.’ My dad was worried for me and how hard it was going to be for me answering to all the alumni for letting him go to Tech.”

Luckily, his son picked the Bulldogs and is now the fourth and final commitment for the 2012 class.

“We are real excited,” Chad said. “I wasn’t sure he would end up there, but I have been hoping he would for two or three years now. Of course he had some other options and he wanted to explore all those options, but I was really, really happy he ended up at Georgia. He has been a Bulldog his whole life. Our family has been a part of the Georgia program and we have loved the institution -- football, basketball and all of it. I had a great four years there and Alec was there for five years and I just could not have picked a better school. So I always wanted that kind of experience for Houston.”

Houston, a 6-foot-8 power forward, will be needed in the Bulldogs' post game, an area of weakness this past season.

“Mark Fox started looking at Houston two years ago and recognized what he could potentially be,” Kessler said. “I think Houston is going to need a little time as he is real similar to what Alec was when he showed up. He probably needs a little more work, a little more maturity, but in the end I think Coach Fox believes he can be a big contributor.”

The Kessler family has a long history of contributing and leading the Georgia basketball team. Chad Kessler played for Georgia from 1984-87 while his younger brother Alec Kessler was an All-American who led the Bulldogs to the 1990 SEC Championship before going to the NBA. Alec left Georgia as the all-time leading scorer and played for the Miami Heat before attending medical school. In 2007, Alec Kessler died due to heart complications suffered during a pick-up basketball game.

“I was talking to one of the guys I work with and he said how great would be if Alec knew this,” Chad Kessler said. “And we were thinking that, well, he is probably smiling down right now.”