It's official: Jasper leaving Kentucky

It took longer than many expected but University of Kentucky sophomore guard Derrick Jasper, a 6-foot-6 native of Paso Robles, Calif, has officially asked for his release from the Wildcats, citing a desire to play closer to home as the reason for his decision.

Kentucky announced Jasper's decision, which had been rumored since mid-April, on Saturday in a press release.

"The decision to transfer is in no way an indication of my experience playing for UK," Jasper said in the press release. "I feel at this point in my life, it is important for me to be close to my family, and I intend to transfer to a school closer to the west coast where I can see my family more often, and they can see me play.

"It was not an easy decision for me to make, since the fans have been so wonderful and very supportive of my teammates and me. I want to thank Coach Gillispie and the entire UK coaching staff for their guidance and support they have given me these past two years. I have grown a tremendous amount as a basketball player, and most importantly a person and feel it is largely due to the people involved with the UK basketball program."

Jasper played in 20 games for the Wildcats this season after missing the first 10 games of the year while recovering from microfracture knee surgery. He averaged 4.2 ppg and 5.5 rpg.

"It's a disappointment to lose Derrick, who was fantastic for us both as a person and a basketball player," UK Head Coach Billy Gillispie said. "He had to battle through some injuries, but he was always willing to sacrifice for the good of the team.

"I appreciate that Derrick was patient and took his time to make certain that this decision was what he felt was best for his future. We wish him all the best. Where ever he decides to attend will be getting an outstanding player who takes his academics very seriously."

As a freshman, Jasper started 27 games while averaging 3.9 ppg and 3.6 rpg.

UNLV has been mentioned as a possible frontrunner for Jasper who has close ties with Rebel guard Tre'Von Willis from his AAU basketball days.

The Runnin' Rebels still have two scholarships available for the 2008 class with former UConn forward Curtis Kelly also looking strongly at UNLV. Both Jasper and Kelly would have to sit out the 2008-09 per NCAA transfer rules should they enroll at UNLV.

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