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The 6-foot-6 sophomore guard faced competition for playing time in the upcoming season.
Associated Press | File
Paul Jesperson started 33 games and played 900 minutes for Virginia this season.
Monday, April 15, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE —Paul Jesperson, a starter in 33 of 35 basketball games for Virginia this past season, just couldn’t be confident in his role going forward.
That was the impression that Jesperson left with UVa head coach Tony Bennett when he requested a release from his letter of intent.
“I knew he was thinking about it,” said Bennett, who had first met with Jesperson during the meetings that he holds with all of his players after the season. “Last week he came back in and said he had a few questions. Then, he told me Friday that it was his intention to transfer.”
Jesperson played 900 minutes this past season, third on the team behind Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell, and was sixth on the team in scoring.
A 6-foot-6 sophomore from Merrill, Wis., Jesperson averaged 4.7 points and 2.2 rebounds for the Cavaliers (23-12).
Jesperson’s decision “certainly wasn’t for lack of playing time or opportunities [this past] season,” said Bennett, interviewed in his office Monday.
“Of course, he could have been part of the rotation [in 2013-2014]. That’s going to be a key for us next year — our chemistry — because there’s going to be competition for playing time.”
Two players who figure prominently in plans for next year, guard Malcolm Brogdon and forward Anthony Gill, were redshirted this past season. Gill is a transfer from South Carolina.
“Some guys probably aren’t going to play as much as they did this year, or there’s going to be good battles for minutes,” Bennett said. “I’m not going to say that’s the reason he left, but there might be better opportunities elsewhere.”
Jesperson’s crowning moment came when he hit four 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 12 points in UVa’s 80-69 victory at Maryland this year.
“I would really like to thank my coaches, teammates and all of my supporters for the opportunity I had at UVa,” Jesperson said in a statement distributed by the school. “They made my time here unforgettable.”
UVa is left with 12 scholarship players, one under the Division I scholarship limit, but Bennett said he is in no hurry to fill Jesperson’s spot.
“We’ll miss him, but I think we have the depth to absorb him,” Bennett said. “This happens.”
Jesperson is the fifth scholarship underclassman to leave the UVa program in less than two years but the first since James Johnson and KT Harrell in December 2011.
More than 450 Division I players transferred following the 2011-2012 season.
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