Miami basketball transfer target Jayden Gardner can be Hurricanes star

Jan 19, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 19, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /

A Miami basketball program desperate to add multiple players to a roster that is less than half its scholarship limit for the 2021-22 season is selling East Carolina transfer, Jayden Gardner, on the opportunity to be one of the Hurricanes top scorers if he transfers to Coral Gables from Greeneville, North Carolina.

Miami lost five players to the transfer portal since January including point guard Chris Lykes to Arkansas. Arkansas is one of the five schools that Gardner is considering. The 6’7, 235 pound forward averaged 18.7 points per game, 8.7 rebounds and shot 52 percent from the floor during three seasons with the Pirates.

In addition to Arkansas and Miami, Gardner is also considering LSU and the Hurricanes ACC rivals North Carolina State and Virginia. Gardner is from Wake Forest, North Carolina which is less than 20 miles from the Wolfpack’s campus. Gardner told 247 Sports he is planning on making a decision within a week.

Miami is only guaranteed to have center Rodney Miller, forwards Deng Gak and Sam Waardenburg for the 2020-21 season. Guard Harlond Beverly and forward Anthony Walker are expected to return but have not announced their decisions yet. Miami signed forward Jakai Robinson and guard Nisine Poplar in the Class of 2021.

"Miami: “Jim [Larrañaga] and I have a really good relationship. He’s seen it and been in the game a long time. They just emphasized how much they need my production for my position. That opportunity is exciting to play in Miami, live in Miami and play tough ACC guards so it’s very tempting.We had a zoom yesterday and it was good. All the guys popped up on the team to say hello and how much they want to play with me so that was really cool. My primary reason for being recruited is to score the basketball. I’m going to score the basketball, be a leader on and off the court.I’m a team first guy so it won’t be any hero ball. I’m just us trying to win basketball games, provide production, leadership and work ethic. I’m an older guy in the game now so I got to be a vet and show some of the younger guys how it’s done."

The decision by Garden could come down to signing with a program that has built winning traditions recently versus being one of the top players for the Miami basketball program. Miami has had three straight losing seasons, have not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2018, or won an NCAA Tournament game since 2016.

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The Miami basketball team did win two games in the 2021 ACC Tournament in a surprise run to the quarterfinals as the 13th seed. If sophomore guard Isaiah Wong decides to return to Miami for his junior season, teaming him with Gardner would provide the Hurricanes with a good tandem scoring inside and out.