Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler not bothered by limited Team USA role

Kessler and Team USA will face Simone Fontecchio and Italy in a quarterfinal matchup on Tuesday.

(Michael Conroy | AP) U.S. center Walker Kessler (14) grabs a rebound over Montenegro guard Andrija Slavkovic (7) during the first half of a Basketball World Cup second-round match in Manila, Philippines, Friday, Sept. 1, 2023.

Walker Kessler has seen the world.

With Team USA this summer, the Utah Jazz center has added stamps from the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines to his passport.

But he hasn’t seen all that much of the court.

Kessler has been used sparingly by U.S. coach Steve Kerr.

As Team USA prepares for a Tuesday morning quarterfinal meeting with Italy, Kessler is averaging 3.6 points and 6.1 minutes per game. But that’s OK with him right now.

“I think that our team, all 12 of us are just unbelievably talented players,” Kessler told reporters in the mixed zone this week. “All the guys are great guys. Regardless of who’s playing, we all cheer for each other. We all support each other. It just goes to show how deep we are. Anybody could have a good night on this team, and it’s a lot of fun to be part of.”

But is he angling for more minutes ahead?

“Let’s call it what it is: We’ve beat every team,” Kessler said. “That’s the most important thing. Coach does a great job. Obviously having 12 guys on the team that are all very good players, it’s difficult to play all of those guys.”

Kessler, meanwhile, beamed when asked if he’s been keeping up with his Jazz teammates who are playing for their countries in the World Cup.

“I have,” he said. “Obviously a couple of teams got knocked out but all the guys have been doing great and I’m really excited for them.”

Kessler will get a chance to see his Jazz teammate Simone Fontecchio, who has had a fantastic tournament (19.4 points, 4 rebounds, 2.7 assists), on Tuesday. Tipoff is set for 6:40 a.m. MT.