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Virginia’s Paul Jesperson announces decision to transfer

Paul Jesperson averaged 4.7 points and 2.2 rebounds per game this past season for Virginia. (Katharine Frey/The Washington Post)

Virginia shooting guard Paul Jesperson has decided to leave the men’s basketball program and transfer to another school, Coach Tony Bennett announced Monday.

Jesperson started 33 of the team’s 35 games this past season and averaged 4.7 points and 2.2 rebounds per contest. The sophomore from Merrill, Wis., shot just 36.1 percent for the year, but he hit 37 percent of his three-pointers and Bennett valued his defensive skills on the perimeter.

“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 school-issued statement. “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.”

Jesperson’s playing time (25.7 minutes per game) would have likely decreased next season if he stayed at Virginia. The Cavaliers will welcome back Jesperson’s classmate, Malcolm Brogdon, after he took a redshirt last season because of lingering issues from foot surgery at the end of the 2011-12 season.

Combined with the continued improvement of freshman Justin Anderson over the course of the 2012-13 campaign, the addition of guards London Perrantes and Devon Hall as part of Bennett’s 2013 recruiting class and the return of Joe Harris, Teven Jones and Taylor Barnette, Virginia’s back court should feature plenty of options going forward.

In addition, South Carolina transfer Anthony Gill will be eligible to play after sitting out last season because of NCAA rules. He will likely slide into the starting lineup immediately.

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

Jesperson is the fifth player to transfer from Virginia since Bennett took over, although the Cavaliers certainly aren’t alone in that regard. More than 450 players decided to transfer to another school last offseason. A 2013 transfer list compiled by already has 225 players that have decided to go to another school since this past season ended.

Mark Giannotto is a Montgomery County native who covers high school sports for The Washington Post. He previously covered Virginia and Virginia Tech football for five years.
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