Jayden Gardner
Forward Jayden Gardner goes for a layup through contact against Cincinnati on March 7. 

A rebuild has seemingly been forced upon the East Carolina University men’s basketball team due to several players who have elected to enter the transfer portal after the conclusion of the 2020-2021 season.

The largest name among those who have decided to transfer is the Pirates’ star junior forward Jayden Gardner. Other names include freshman guard Noah Farrakhan, sophomore forward Charles Coleman, senior forward Edra Luster and senior guard Bitumba Baruti.

It’s clear that the loss of some players will hurt more than others, especially with the impact Gardner provides. The future looked promising with the addition of a young guard in Farakhan, but now there will need to be a different approach to next season. Head coach Joe Dooley will have his work cut out for him as the team moves on from the Gardner era and into the future of Pirates basketball.

Gardner has become a household name for Pirate Nation, as he has been ECU basketball’s leading scorer and rebounder for the previous two seasons, according to the stats sheet on ECUPirates. He will certainly be the biggest loss to the basketball program, and will draw much attention from other universities as he decides his next destination.

To find a replacement for Gardner will be next to impossible. His statistical impact put him head and shoulders above the rest of the team and will be dearly missed next season.

This season, the star forward averaged 18.3 points per game with 8.3 rebounds per game as well. His performance this season placed him at second in both categories in the American Athletic Conference. In the 2019-2020 season, he averaged an AAC high of 19.7 points per game, and he added 9.2 rebounds per game, which placed him at third in the AAC.

Farrakhan was a high-valued prospect out of highschool, recognized as a three-star guard on 247sports. He committed to ECU before the start of the 2020-2021 season, but played very little this season with only 10 minutes per game, according to ECUPirates. He averaged 3.0 points per game, but scored a collegiate career-high of 11 points on Dec. 5, 2020, against Radford University.

Farrakhans future looks promising as a college point guard, but his time as a Pirate was very short lived.

Coleman was one of the few 7-foot forwards on the Pirates’ roster. In his second year, Coleman played very few minutes, with a total of only 50 minutes in nine games played, according to ECUPirates. As a freshman, he started in 20 games and averaged just 3.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in his average of 16.1 minutes on the court.

Fellow 7-foot “bigman” Luster joined the ECU lineup as a junior and played even less than Coleman. He recorded only 21 games of action in two years with less than 10 minutes averaged in both seasons. He averaged 0.6 points per game in both seasons.

Another senior, Baruti also spent two seasons on the Pirate roster, but averaged much more time on the floor than both Coleman and Luster. He played in 31 games in the 2019-2020 season, but only 17 this past year. In both seasons, he averaged over 20 minutes of game time. He averaged 6.8 points per game in 2020-2021 and 4.4 in 2019-2020, according to ECUPirates.

Even as the Pirates have finished with a losing record since going 17-17 in the 2013-2014 season, Pirate Nation should prepare for more of the same during this rebuild period.

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