Former Merrill basketball standout returns to Wisconsin - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Former Merrill basketball standout returns to Wisconsin


People in Merrill are ready for Paul Jesperson's return to the Badger State.

The Merrill High School basketball standout turned Virginia Cavalier will play against the Badgers in Madison.

"There's quite a bit of conversation that goes on, I've received lots of contact from people just wishing Paul luck," said Kurt Soderberg.

Soderberg, Merrill's Varsity Coach said he started coaching Jesperson early on. He watched Jesperson grow into a Division One prospect, earning a scholarship with Virginia.

"My first year here he was a freshman and started for us as a freshman, started every game for me for four years," said Soderberg.

He remembered the last time Jesperson set foot on the Kohl Center floor.

"I thought about them going through the walkthrough on that floor and I'm sure that his teammates will know that he played on that court as a high school player, I'm sure it's going to bring back real special memories for him," said Soderberg.

Jesperson grabbed national attention in 2011 for his 80-foot shot. It landed on ESPN's top ten plays.

His brother, David, said he couldn't believe it.

"It's really exciting, you know for like a guy from a little town like Merrill getting on ESPN with some of the pro guys, it's pretty cool," said Jesperson.

David and Paul played on the Merrill Varsity team together and he said he's happy to see Paul's success.

"I always knew he was good, when we were playing together but seeing him play in the ACC like against all those other guys, you never picture that when you're young," said Jesperson.

In 2011, Jesperson led the Blue Jays in scoring and was named the AP and Gatorade Wisconsin Player of the Year.

Jesperson accomplished it all while helping Merrill to its first ever state runner-up finish.

"It's a huge dream for many young basketball players, being able to see him live the dream and have a great future, it's pretty cool," said Brandon Bartz.

A dream his fans hope to keep seeing become reality.

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