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Jesperson to transfer from Virginia

Guard averaged 3.5 points per game in two seasons with Cavaliers

As soon as the curtain closed on a surprisingly successful 2012-13 Virginia men’s basketball season, the team and its supporters turned their attention eagerly to next season, when the team was initially expected to return all starters except for senior point guard Jontel Evans and add a slew of new talented contributors.

The fresh faces are still on their way, and the anticipation still runs rampant. But sophomore guard Paul Jesperson won’t be along for the ride.

After starting 33-of-35 games in his sophomore campaign, the 6’6” native of Merrill, Wis. will transfer from Virginia, the University announced Monday. Neither he nor the school has revealed his destination for next season.

“Paul has decided to leave the Virginia basketball program and transfer to another school,” coach Tony Bennett said in a statement. “We’d like to thank him for the past two seasons and wish him well in the future.”

The Gatorade Player of the Year for Wisconsin his senior year of high school after averaging 22.5 points per game, Jesperson never found his scoring touch as a Cavalier, averaging just 3.5 points and shooting 33.8 percent from behind the arc, despite a reputation for long-range precision.

His underwhelming statistical production, however, was balanced with a valuable hustle. Jesperson earned praise from Bennett in a Jan. 28 teleconference as the “glue” guy for a squad that won 20 games for the second consecutive season. Along with Evans, junior guard Joe Harris, junior forward Akil Mitchell and freshman guard Justin Anderson, Jesperson contributed to the lineup that started 12 of the season’s last 13 games and registered an 8-4 record.

Jesperson expressed gratitude to the program in a farewell statement.

“I would really like to thank my coaches, teammates and all of my supporters for the opportunity I had at U.Va.,” Jesperson said. “They made my time here unforgettable and I’m extremely grateful for that. I wish them the best and I’m looking forward to continuing my college career at my new school.”

The return of guard Malcolm Brogdon, who redshirted the 2012-13 season while nursing a foot injury, and the debut of sophomore small forward Anthony Gill, a South Carolina transfer, should soften the blow of Jesperson’s departure. During their freshman campaigns in 2010-11, Brogdon averaged 6.7 points per game, while Gill registered 7.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest.

Their presence, in conjunction with the arrival of incoming freshmen guards London Perrantes and Devon Hall, likely would have relegated Jesperson to a reserve role in 2013-14.

Jesperson’s transfer prolongs a trend of regular rotation players transferring from Virginia under Bennett’s tutelage. He marks the fifth player to abdicate from Charlottesville since Bennett took the helm in 2009 and the third — along with K.T. Harrell and Billy Baron — to bolt after averaging more than 10 minutes of playing time per game.


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