- 1,040 miles. That's the distance which seperates Merrill native Paul Jesperson from his hometown. Paul is in his second year on the Virginia Cavaliers basketball team.
Last week - he was back in his home state.
"It definately meant alot to me," Jesperson said. "It's not very often I get to play infront of my parents, my brothers, my sisters, me friends. To be able to play infront of them felt really good."
"We don't get to see him very often," adds Paul's father Jim Jesperson. "It gets us a chance to root for him."
Jesperson's started 7 games this season including the victory over Wisconsin. He keeps improving and is settling into his role.
"He's continually gotten better," said Virginia head coach Tony Bennett. "He's one of our more improved players. Just slowly gaining more confidence."
Bennett was a former NBA player, and shined at UW-Green Bay - playing for his father Dick Bennett. Tony was also an assistant for the Badgers for four seasons.
Paul developed his skills at Merrill, and helped lead the Blue Jays to a run at the state tourney in 2011.
Dave Arneson coached Jesperson in middle school. He says, "That was special. We had four or five kids who learned to play around him. Paul carried us. He was a great player."
Off the court, Jesperson isn't quite as serious.
"He's quite the practical joker," says Bennett. "He's kind of quiet, but he's funny. His teammates love him."
Written By: Marisa Silvas