Paul Jesperson Kicks off 2011 Recruiting Class

Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett is officially on the prowl for his 2011 recruiting class. After stringing together a downright impressive first recruiting class for the Cavaliers, one that ranked in the top 20 nationally by pretty much all accounts, Bennett is off to a great start already for his next class. Yesterday, 6'7", 180 lb. small forward/shooting guard Paul Jesperson gave a verbal commitment to Wahoo Nation. The Wisconsin native is rated 4-stars on Scout and is a Rivals150 recruit.

There are many reasons to get excited about this first recruit. One quick way is to look at the offers he received -- we're looking at legitimate programs here: Arizona State, Boston College, NCAA Title Game Butler, Iowa, Notre Dame, just to get you started. He says he had over 20 offers in total.

ESPNInsider says Jesperson, "He is a solid athlete with a nice long basketball body. Paul is a very good shooter. He has range to 25 feet. He gets good elevation on this shots and has a nice rotation on the ball and good touch."

Paul Jesperson chooses Virginia (Photo by Mitch Skurzewski/Wausau Daily Herald)Jesperson made his announcement via a press conference he held at Salvo's Pizza, his parents' restaurant. He laid out three t-shirts -- Minnesota, Notre Dame, and Virginia -- and put on the only one that will make it to the Final Four in the next 5 years. Granted, there was no one hour special on The Decision, but the hat-choosing (or in this case, t-shirt-choosing) process is probably my favorite part of college recruiting. Here's a quick one-minute video of the selection:

I don't know this for a fact, but all signs point to Bennett being able to rope in this recruit because of his Wisconsin ties (Jesperson also had an offer at Wisconsin-Green Bay). By "all signs," I mean just that he is from Wisconsin. Yep that's pretty much the only sign.

That, and Jesperson essentially said that Bennett was a huge reason he chose Virginia.

"That was the biggest thing, I think, that sold me to Virginia," Jesperson said. "I want to be with a coach that, if things aren't going right outside of basketball, I could go and talk to him. And I think he's that kind of guy and I can trust him like that. So, that was a major thing. There aren't many schools, I think, that are better than Virginia. Even say a Duke or North Carolina were to come and offer, I just feel like, even if they did offer, Virginia is where I want to be."

That's quite the sales pitch Bennett has going on.

"That's the place that felt like home for the next four years," said Jesperson. "I felt comfortable with the coaching staff, the school, I loved it and I know they are going to get it done in the ACC."

Jesperson averaged 20.5 points per game last year as a junior. The criticism I've read of him thus far is that he doesn't have a tendency to create his own plays, something he'll need to work on this upcoming season before he heads to Charlottesville. Also, at 6'7" and 180 pounds, he could stand to add a few pounds of muscle (note that I said "of muscle" -- I'm looking at you, Elton Brown).

"I'm really happy for him." says his head coach Kurt Soderberg. "You know when you talk about the ACC, playing in that...boy the tradition there. I'm just thrilled for him and I know his teammates are thrilled for him. I know he's going to do really well there."

Jesperson will take the first of what I believe are four open scholarship spots for next year (assuming we don't lose any more than the seniors). Taking a look at some of the recruiting charts, it looks like Bennett is going after some of the big dawgs, including three of ESPNU's top 100.

Here is another one-minute video, a highlights montage:

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