Jesperson backs up All-Valley with All-State
The Valley’s coaches may have mildly overlooked Merrill’s David Jesperson, but the state’s coaches sure didn’t.
Jesperson did make the unanimous First Team squad for the second consecutive year, but despite putting up the best statistics in the most important categories was edged out of Player of the Year balloting.
That didn’t stop him from being named to the All-State First Team by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association.
“I think both awards are well-deserved,” MHS coach Kurt Soderberg said. “But I’m disappointed he didn’t get the Player of the Year. He missed out by a one-vote margin.
“I thought he clearly deserved it. He was in the top eight in every statistical category, even blocks and assists and everything else. He led the league in scoring and rebounding, and it wasn’t even close in rebounding. I don’t know how you don’t reward that, especially for a senior.
“The fact they gave it to freshman (Stevens Point guard Trevor Anderson) bothers me as well.”
Jesperson edged out Anderson in scoring at 20.5 ppg to 19.8, but Merrill’s 6’ 8” senior grabbed 11.3 rebounds per contest, almost five boards more per game than runner-up Zach Finnegan, from Everest.
Jesperson ranked 4th in free throw shooting % at 81.4%, tied for 6th in assists (2.0 apg), 7th in field goal shooting (55.3%), and 7th in three-point shooting (38.2%).
Anderson was 6th in field-goal % (57.0%), 1st in free throw % (89.0%), 2nd in three-point accuracy (47.3%), and 2nd in assists (2.8 apg). He didn’t crack the top 15 in rebounds. SPASH did win the WVC at 11-1, while Merrill finished 4th at 6-6.
Soderberg feels Jesperson is just scratching the surface of his talent.
“He has got a very high ceiling,” he said. “He’s got a lot of room for growth because he’s fairly young for a senior.
“He will fill out his body. Getting into a college strength and conditioning program will help. He’ll get stronger and just through the natural development of more muscle, his lateral quickness will improve. Right now he isn’t going to beat you off the dribble, but he will with more strength.
“He’s still 17. He could still be a junior. Whichever college he goes to will factor that in and may red-shirt him. But, regardless, by the time he is a junior and senior in college, he’s going to be a really good player for someone. Maybe he goes to a mid-major college, and by the time he’s a junior, people will say, ‘Where did this guy come from?’ His best basketball is definitely ahead of him.”
Jesperson’s future destination is still up in the air.
“I think for David it will be a late spring decision,” Soderberg said. “He has interest from the East coast, the West coast and the Midwest. It’s just a matter of finding the right fit. I give David credit for not being in a hurry. Some people just jump on the biggest school, but finding the best fit takes patience.
“Some teams have talked about once the season ends they will know what they have in regards to scholarships. Some kids may be transferring. David is on the WBCA list as one of the best seniors unsigned so he’s got that credibility and the stats to back it up. He’s not 5-10, he’s 6-8 and has a variety of skills. He’ll be very attractive to somebody.”
Soderberg then points out the attraction.
“If you look at what he brings to the table, he can score from the perimeter, he can score off the dribble,” he said. “He can hit the three in transition. He’s able to defend multiple positions.
“One thing that colleges are going to like is he’s a pick-and-pop guy. He can screen, but then he can roll to the basket or drop out to the three. That makes him difficult to defend. The fact he’s 6-8 and can do that is a big deal.”
Other than the POY snub, Soderberg thought the Valley voting was “fair.”
“By the end of the year, Jake Anderson was playing at that level, but part of what they vote on is the season as a whole.”