A high leaper at 6'5", Jasper is the best prospect ever to emerge from San Luis Obispo, Calif. A top-40 ranked recruit, Jasper spurned Illinois and Memphis to join the Cats. He also had offers from UCONN, Washington and Cal.
Jasper's strength appears to be an all-around athletic ability mixed with a penchant for passing. He's listed as a point guard, but Tubby has already made rumblings that he'd consider experimenting with Jasper at the 3 (small forward) and shooting guard spots. He is also a hard-nosed on-the-ball defender and a clutch performer, hitting a game-winning three in the sectionals and leading his team in scoring, assists and steals.
The only real flaw in Jasper's game (and this will sound familiar to critics of Smith's recruiting) is his jumpshot. Until he plays in a game, we'll have to trust Tubby's assessment when he said Jasper "needs to work on his shooting." OK, then.
But Derrick was the centerpiece of his high school team, as many top recruits are, and helped lead his AAU squad to a national title in Las Vegas two years ago, outpacing some bigger names and earning some buzz in the process.
Expect to see Jasper in limited minutes initially as the backup to Ramel Bradley, along with fellow frosh Jodie Meeks, and as an occasional sub for Bobby Perry or Joe Crawford as well. As is typical with many of Tubby's players, Jasper will be versatile and streaky, with games that will cause the Big Blue Nation to clamor for more playing time and others where he'll earn his freshman status.
On a side note, lost in all the frustration over the guys Tubby Smith didn't bring in was the fact that the guys he did corral are top-notch. Jasper is possibly the gem of the UK class, and a potential future pro, if his shooting catches up to his passing and defense.
Welcome aboard, Derrick.