Athlete Worth Watching: Jaylen Jasper, Broadneck High School Volleyball
Jaylen Jasper could certainly play college basketball. He’s that good. For one thing, the Broadneck High School senior, at 6-foot-8, has the size. Jasper also has scintillating athletic ability and years of experience playing Amateur Athletic Union for high-level travel teams.
But there’s one problem: He grew bored with the sport.
“I had been playing basketball for a long time and it just kind of got old,” he explains. “I had some friends that were big into certain sports and they took (a break). I was like, ‘Maybe that’s what I need.’
“So I decided that maybe I will play volleyball and it will get me reenergized in basketball,” he adds. “It kind of backfired because I ended liking volleyball more.”
Jasper has come a long way in the three years since he started playing for the Annapolis Volleyball Club as a freshman in high school. The Arnold resident ranks as one of the best players in the country in his age group.
Jasper, who carries a weighted 3.8 grade point average, will attend one of the most prestigious programs in the country, Stanford University, on a volleyball scholarship in the fall.
He brings an impressive resume to the next level, having earned a spot on the USA Under-19 Youth National Team that competed in Havana, Cuba, last year. Jasper led that squad in blocks and kills to help earn a silver medal and invitation for his team to the World Championships in Bahrain in the summer of 2017.
“You could easily put money down that he will be on the USA Men’s National Team in the future,” says Princeton University Men’s Volleyball Coach Sam Shweisky, who also ran the USA Under-19 Youth National Team. “His jump is special. We jump-touched him this summer at 12 feet, which is pretty unique. There are only a handful of guys like him.”
Jasper developed quickly enough to get invited to USA-sponsored volleyball camps in Oklahoma and California in 2014 and in Iowa and California the following year.
Twice Volleyball Magazine listed him among its 25 underclassmen to watch.
“I really gave him a ton of credit for how far he has come,” Shweisky says. “It comes down to his work ethic, humility, and coachability. It’s sort of shocking to me how many kids don’t listen to you when say ‘Try this technique.’ He has approached (USA practices) with an attitude that ‘I want to learn.’”
College coaches also noticed his superior talent and potential. He chose Stanford over offers from UCLA, USC, Pepperdine, and Penn State.
“I have heard people say, ‘He is the top recruit in the county,’” says Annapolis Volleyball Club’s Mike Schwob, a former Navy men’s and women’s coach. “He is just not powerful at the net. He is a well-rounded player, has some real athletic gifts and he is very dedicated. It will be exciting to see him play at the next level.”
Jasper said he chose Stanford, where he plans to major in chemical engineering, because of the prestige of the school as well its strong academic and athletic programs.
“It’s Stanford,” he explains. “I fell in love with it as soon I got there. I get along with the coaches great and the team is awesome. I felt like I fit right in.”
Jasper has managed to juggle playing both volleyball and basketball in the winter.
He certainly left his mark on the Broadneck basketball program as a junior and senior after transferring from Archbishop Spalding following his sophomore year.
He started for two years at forward and led Broadneck in blocks and rebounds during his junior year.
“Volleyball has been his main focus,” Broadneck boys basketball coach John Williams says.
“But if he had focused on basketball the past four years, I think we’re looking at someone that could go Division I. His athleticism is unprecedented as far as our program goes. He is a monster on the defensive end and a game-changer. He is versatile and can come out and play on the perimeter.”
But Jasper’s future is clearly in volleyball.
“I was one of the top recruits in the Class of 2017,” Jasper says. “Don’t ask me how I got to that point in such a short period of time. It kind of blows my mind.”