Zep Jasper commits to Auburn

Auburn basketball received a commitment from College of Charleston transfer Zep Jasper March 18.

Last season – as a junior at Charleston – Jasper averaged 15.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. Jasper is also a talented on-ball defender who made the Colonial Athletic Conference’s All Defense team, in addition to being a Second Team All Conference selection.

Jasper committed to Auburn after the Tigers lost two guards and a forward to the transfer portal and could lose lead guard Sharife Cooper to the NBA Draft. 

The Charleston transfer is a combo guard who started at point guard for Charleston last season, but he played an off-ball role at Charleston in years prior when Grant Riller dominated the team’s point guard role. 

Jasper can play point guard or shooting guard at Auburn, with his defense and scoring ability making up for his size when playing the two.

Several of Jasper’s percentages and efficiency ratings went down some when he took on Charleston’s go-to and point guard roles last season, but he still improved overall, and playing such a high usage role is something he shouldn’t have to do as often at Auburn.

Jasper still posted a 105.6 offensive rating, a true shooting percentage above 50 and an assist rate of 18.4 to a turnover rate of 10.7 last season. Even after taking on a more ball dominant role, his turnover rate improved and was among the 115 best in the country.

Whether he’s playing point guard or shooting guard, Jasper has the experience to play in a high or low usage role and produced good numbers at Charleston in both. This also means he can help take over for Cooper if Cooper leaves or play alongside Cooper if both are at Auburn.

The transfer will make a great addition to the roster no matter how it changes between now and November.

I expect Jasper will play as a true combo guard, in a role similar to Samir Doughty’s at Auburn. He can go get a bucket when needed, can defend the other team’s best guard, can run the point or play off ball and can come off the bench or start. I think his backcourt versatility and his scoring are his two best attributes and what make him a good fit at Auburn.

Other highlights for Jasper include scoring in double digits 15 times last season, including eight games in a row to end the season, scoring 38 points against Columbus State, CAA All Defense team, All CAA Second Team, College of Charleston team captain and other accomplishments.

Breaking down more of Jasper’s game. Offense:

Jay: Jasper is a three level scorer. His film, stat lines and shooting splits show he’s productive from three, midrange and around the rim. He’s also shooting around 85 percent from the line throughout his career.

To me, Jasper looks like a “scoring guard” first, but I think he can play a backup point guard role well and potentially a starting role. His turnover rate is good, his assist numbers and vision are fine and he has experience for the role. 

Drew: This was an interesting trend I picked up on digging deeper into Charleston’s film too. As the year progressed, Jasper’s offensive role increased a ton, especially with one of Charleston’s top scoring options going down with a season ending injury early on. It wasn’t a perfectly linear relationship, but the more Jasper got comfortable taking on more responsibility, the better he produced. These are incredible numbers to put up over an 8 game stretch on a subpar, under-manned squad with late season intensity ramping up.

He can clean up his shot selection a bit due to being forced to create a lot at Charleston after Riller and others graduated or moved on. He has a lighting quick release with good elevation on his jumpers and has good range even though he doesn’t always use it. Can get the hot hand and can also facilitate with his vision and pick and roll skill set. He also has the speed and handle to play well in transition.

Defense:

Jay: College of Charleston’s bio for Jasper’s sophomore season starts out with “Best on-ball defender in the country,” and Jasper tries to live up to that. Most of his defense comes in the form of bothering the player with the ball. Jasper’s size doesn’t translate well for steals and blocks, but he can shutdown scorers nonetheless.

Drew: Elite defender. Tenacious. Lockdown island. He fights through screens well and operates in traffic with ease. He has elite defensive IQ and excellent anticipation.

He’s active on the glass but not a dominant rebounder. He has a good feeling for when to push the break after a rebound, especially when it comes to scoring in transition. He routinely defended the other team’s best scoring threat baseline to baseline while being his team’s top offensive option and playing more than 30 minutes a game.

What’s next?

After the addition of the Charleston transfer, Auburn still has two open spots and several players who are expected to put their name in the draft. Those players can return to Auburn if they don’t hire an agent, but I expect Auburn to continue recruiting the portal and potentially a few high school targets.

Other targets include:

Myreon Jones – Penn State transfer (Drew’s scouting report)

Jase Townsend – Denver transfer

KyKy Tandy – Xavier transfer

Izaiah Brockington – Penn State transfer

Jamir Harris – American transfer

Wesley Cardet Jr. – 2021 guard

Auburn is also after several top 50 players in 2022. While none have announced plans to reclassify, it’s too early to rule it out completely. Scoot Henderson, Zion Cruz, Nick Smith Jr, Dillion Hunter and Derrian Ford, to name a few.

I think Auburn will wait to find out for sure what Cooper’s decision is before taking another commitment. If Cooper leaves, it seems like a true point guard is the way to go. If he returns, it gives Auburn a lot more flexibility with its open spots.

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