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October 24, 2014

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Leaner and meaner, Jasper feeling good this summer for Rebels

Derrick Jasper made an appearance in the tunnel of the Thomas & Mack Center on Monday night before watching good friend and former Kentucky roommate/teammate Jodie Meeks play for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA summer league.

The only way you'd recognize the UK transfer, however, is if you know his face.

Jasper, who redshirted last season per NCAA transfer rules, also used the time allowing his once-surgically repaired left knee time to fully heal.

He's back on the court at full strength this summer, playing pick-up ball all week with his UNLV teammates, and looks better than ever.

The slimmed down 6-foot-6 point guard said he cut several of his favorite foods out of his diet -- mostly trips to Buffalo Wild Wings, he admits -- and currently weighs a slender 212 pounds. This is down from the 227 pounds he said he weighed at the end of last season, when he was just getting back to playing form following another round of rehab.

When asked to describe how summer ball with his teammates had felt, he couldn't wipe the smile from his face.

"It's been so long," he said. "I feel 10 times better than I did my last year at Kentucky. Basically, I'm just working real hard, bringing leadership and making everyone play hard, too.

"I'm so excited, I'm ready."

He said Rebels fans can expect to see a team with solid communication skills on the defensive end this season, as he said the chatter is at high volume during pick-up ball.

Jasper, who averaged 4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in two seasons at Kentucky, had microfracture surgery performed on his left knee following the 2006-07 season, but admittedly played during the 2007-08 season on a left leg that wasn't quite at full strength.

The Paso Robles, Calif., native transferred following the 07-08 campaign, and is expected to compete for a starting spot with Lon Kruger's club this season.

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