Recruiting is about relationships. When a player announces his intent to transfer, one of the first things to check is who was recruiting him in high school. That list typically contains the answer to a player's new destination.
Paul Jesperson, who left Virginia, fits that pattern. The 2011 Gatorade Player of the Year in Wisconsin was recruited early by Northern Iowa, and may have ended up there if high major offers from schools like Virginia and Notre Dame hadn't come in. Now, two years later, he's reconsidered that decision and is enrolling at Northern Iowa.
Jesperson has great size for a guard (6-6) which is what made him such an intriguing prospect – and a top 100 player according to ESPN. Tony Bennett's plan was to redshirt Jesperson, but he was unable to due to a combination of transfers and injuries which left UVA short handed. He sat out the first 11 games of his freshman season before being pressed into action.
That experience allowed him to become a starter as a sophomore. Though, in retrospect, he may have still needed a redshirt season. He needs to get stronger, and he really needs to add to his offensive repertoire.
Now he'll get a chance to take the redshirt, as he's forced to sit out a season. Once he returns, head coach Ben Jacobson will have an interesting talent to utilize. Jesperson is a spot up shooter who does not create for others. His assist rate was nearly invisible, and he finished the year with a stretch of 16-straight games where he never had more than one assist. He had zero in his final six games which covered 134 minutes. He also doesn't create for himself. Of his 40 made 3s this season, 39 were assisted.
The assist numbers partially paint the picture of his game. As that picture takes shape, it becomes clear that – offensively at least – Jesperson has stretches where he's virtually non existent on the court. He doesn't create. He doesn't rebound. He doesn't draw fouls.
He camps at the line and waits for shots. So it's no surprise that he's transferring to an offense that attempts a LOT of 3s. 41% of UNI's shots were 3s this season, which was 28th nationally.
On the other side of the court Jesperson showed instincts on defense. No one plays for Tony Bennett unless they play defense, and Jesperson brings a 6-6 frame which can guard smaller guys. It's that versatility which will really help the Panthers. He won't put up gaudy defensive numbers, but he's solid and dependable.