For four Georgia seniors, Wednesday night’s game against Auburn will be the final time they play a scheduled home game on the Stegeman Coliseum floor.
J.J. Frazier, Kenny Paul Geno, Houston Kessler and Brandon Young are entering the final stretch of their collegiate careers, with the Auburn game serving as senior night. With only two games remaining in the regular season, the Georgia seniors reflected on what it will mean to play in front of the home crowd once more.
“It’s a very weird feeling that (Tuesday) is the very last practice in Stegeman for a home game ever. Just a weird feeling,” Geno said. “(Wednesday) will be a little sad at first but we have a job to do. We have to get these two wins.”
Geno, who came to Athens four years ago from Booneville, Mississippi, was referring to the fact that if Georgia wins both games this week, the Bulldogs could be in serious contention for an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament.
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While it might be emotional when the seniors are recognized before the Auburn game, Geno, who has averaged 9.5 minutes per game this season with a season-high of 15 points against Morehouse, said his team has an ever-important game to focus on.
“We’ll go out there and have our ceremony, but that’s just a little exciting thing,” Geno said. “We’ll be ready for the game.”
Kessler is the only senior of the four to have redshirted a season. Like Geno, he evolved into a role player head coach Mark Fox has turned to off the bench. For Kessler, he’s the latest in his family to complete a college basketball career at Georgia.
His father, Chad Kessler, played at Georgia from 1983-87. His uncle, Alec Kessler, is Georgia’s No. 2 career scoring leader and was a 1990 All-American and NBA lottery pick (10th overall by the Houston Rockets).
Kessler said the Georgia program has long been meaningful to his family.
“I’m just thankful and really blessed to have had the opportunity to play basketball here for five years,” Kessler said. “I’ll be thinking about that for sure and just try to enjoy everything.”
For Young, it was a lifelong dream to play for Georgia. He recalled writing on a middle school application that his goal was to play a sport for the Bulldogs one day. At the time, he didn’t know it would be basketball. Getting to this point proved quite the process, too.
Young walked on to the Georgia basketball team prior to the start of the 2013-14 season and spent his first two seasons without a scholarship. Prior to the start of the 2015-16 campaign, Fox surprised Young with a scholarship at the program’s preseason banquet.
In doing so, his teammates immediately surrounded him in celebration.
“Fulfilling a lifelong dream has been awesome,” Young said. “Having my family an hour away come to a lot of games and seeing my buddies in the stands has been pretty cool.”