CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Dean and Markel Families Men’s Head Basketball Coach Tony Bennett announced Tuesday (April 27) the addition of forward Jayden Gardner (Wake Forest, N.C.) to the Cavaliers’ program.
Gardner has signed a financial aid agreement and is transferring to Virginia after playing the last three seasons at East Carolina.
“We are excited to add Jayden to the Virginia basketball family,” Bennett said. “The experience, leadership and production he brings to our program is invaluable, and we look forward to having him join our program.”
Gardner amassed 1,492 points and 702 rebounds in three seasons at East Carolina. He ranks eighth on ECU’s career scoring list, which is also 12th-most in the eight-year history of the American Athletic Conference. Gardner also ranks third in AAC history in double-doubles (30) as well as fifth in rebounds and free throws made (429).
In 2020-21, Gardner earned All-AAC first-team honors after averaging 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game for the Pirates. He led the AAC in conference scoring (18.0 ppg) and finished third in rebounding (8.7 rpg). Gardner scored 20 or more points in 10 games.
As a sophomore in 2019-20, Gardner led the AAC in scoring with 19.7 points per game, ranked third in rebounding (9.2 rpg) and fourth in field goal percentage (52.1%) and minutes (34.5 mpg). He was named to the All-AAC second team and became the first East Carolina player named to the NABC All-District first team. He scored 20 or more points along with 10 or more rebounds in 10 games.
Gardner was named to the AAC All-Freshman team in 2018-19 after averaging 16.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 30.5 minutes per game. He ranked second in the AAC in rebounding, double-doubles (10) and 30-point games (3). Gardner became the second player in school history to score 30 points and grab 20 rebounds in the same game with 35 points and 20 rebounds at UCF.
“I’m excited about joining the University of Virginia,” Gardner said. “It’s a dream come true to be able to play in the ACC under one of best coaches in the world. I can’t wait to get to work as soon as I touch down on Grounds and get to connect with all the fans and members of Virginia. Thank you God for the opportunity and I’m not going to take it for granted.”
Gardner is a 2018 graduate of Heritage High School. He was a four-year letterman for the Huskies under head coach Tilden Brill. Gardner was a two-time North Carolina first-team all-state honoree and three-time CAP-8 conference player of the year. He averaged 24.3 points and 13.9 rebounds per game as a senior, leading the Huskies to a 25-5 overall record and conference regular season and tournament titles.