After losing multiple forwards to the transfer portal itself, Pitt is searching for reinforcements at the position, with the latest target being Jayden Gardner.
Gardner entered the portal after finishing up a strong junior season for East Carolina University in the American Athletic Conference (AAC). After averaging 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, the North Carolina native was voted First Team All-AAC. As a sophomore, Gardner earned AAC Player of the Year honors.
The 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward’s points, minutes, and rebounding averages were all good for second in the conference. While he is not much of a three-point shooter, he did shoot a solid 48% from the field, which was the lowest percentage he has shot in his career at East Carolina.
Perhaps Gardner’s most underrated skill is his ability to get to the free-throw line and convert on his attempts there. The big man shot double-digit free-throws in six different games this season and finished the year with a 74% mark from the line.
Gardner’s dominance ever since he stepped on a college court has been astounding. His freshman year, he averaged 16.3 points and 8.5 rebounds. Sophomore season? 19.7 points and 9.2 rebounds. Junior season? 18.3 and 8.3. Through his three years at ECU, he cemented himself as one of the best all-around players that the conference has seen in recent years.
Since entering the portal, Gardner has heard from a long list of high major schools, and it will undoubtedly be a tough race to compete in for Pitt. According to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, Gardner has heard from ACC teams Pitt, Virginia Tech, Virginia, NC State, and Miami, among other high major programs.