GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Jayden Gardner has quietly become a force to be reckoned with on the hardwood. The 6-foot-6, 245-pound freshman forward on the ECU men's basketball team recently racked up his third conference freshman of the week award this past Monday.
Through 16 games, the Wake Forest native has already posted seven double-doubles, which has Pirate Nation concerned he might eventually transfer.
But ECU fans do not need to worry about Gardner.
"My commitment is 100 percent," said Gardner before practice Tuesday. "I don't plan on leaving. I plan on giving my all to this program, and to the fans, and our coaches, and my teammates."
"You need to not only recruit good players, you need to retain and develop them, and we've got a good situation," said ECU men's basketball head coach Joe Dooley. "[Gardner] has a great situation as a player. He can be a foundational type person."
Gardner is currently leading the American Conference in scoring (19.4 ppg) and ranks second in rebounding (9.5 rpg).
"He's been the go-to guy," said ECU sophomore guard Shawn Williams. "The head of the snake. Everything is around Jayden right now. He's playing great."
In fact, Gardner's number basically mirror those of Duke's Zion Williamson (20.3 ppg, 9.4 rpg).
"[Gardner] is special," added Williams. "He reminds me of Charles Barkley. He's special. He's a big part of this program."
"[Gardner] has had a great year so far, and I think the big thing for him is that he's been consistent," said Dooley. "He's not afraid, and I think he is going to be a great cornerstone for us going forward."
Gardner most recently tallied 35 points and 20 rebounds in Sunday's loss at UCF. He now holds the conference records for both points and rebounds in a single game.
"My hard work is starting to pay off and I'm starting to get rewarded," said Gardner. "So I just gotta keep doing it in silence."
Gardner and the ECU Pirates host the Temple Owls on Wednesday at 7 p.m. inside Minges Coliseum.