Word on the street is that Derrick Jasper is feeling unappreciated for his desperate efforts to get back on the floor this past year. There is also credible information that Derrick is feeling alienated from the Big Blue Nation.
That is wrong. Jasper gave a superhuman effort this past season, and without him we would have never had a chance to continue our NCAA streak. He is a piece that we simply cannot replace, not because of his skills or his size, but because of his heart. No bigger and more passionate heart exists on the Kentucky team, and news of his unhappiness makes me very concerned.
But instead of just worrying about it, I am issuing a clarion call. Let's have a little Derrick Jasper appreciation around here. How 'bout a little love for a young man who has traveled far from hearth and home and fought through a very difficult and significant knee surgery to find a way to contribute to this team? He ignored the pain of the injury and the pain of constant accolades to practically everyone else on the team while his incredible contribution went largely unremarked.
Why did that happen? I don't know. It seems that we have taken for granted his extraordinary effort to get back on the floor and play through the discomfort of his surgical aftermath. Gillispie got co-coach of the year. Bradley and Crawford were recognized with all-SEC honors and plaudits from the fans. All were justly deserved.
But where was our recognition of the bravest man of all? Where was our amazement for his effort and determination? Where were my articles about his astonishing improvement in 3-point shooting, his great defense and rebounding, his constant and unforgettable effort to get the ball in scoring position despite being hampered by an injury so severe he had no business being on the court?
I don't know. But I do know this -- Derrick Jasper, we need and want you to stay at Kentucky. A lot. No, one hell of a lot.
So let's hear it for Derrick, the quiet, almost unnoticed, but absolutely indispensable Wildcat who delivered not just great shooting and great rebounding, but without whom our success last year would not have been possible.
We love you, Derrick. Thanks for being a Wildcat, and we look forward to seeing you back next year, 100% healed and ready to lead this team to success. Without your efforts, this last year would likely have been counted a failure, but because of them, it was a success.
Update [2008-4-16 10:16:48 by Truzenzuzex]: Matt Jones has an encouraging update on the situation.
Update [2008-4-16 13:20:34 by Truzenzuzex]: Matt has updated his story above, and now it is a little less encouraging. Keep your fingers crossed.
Update [2008-4-16 22:48:17 by Truzenzuzex]: Galloway is officially a Wildcat, and has signed his LOI. Welcome to the Big Blue, Kevin [thanks to kykat51 for the link].