The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced East Carolina University men’s basketball junior forward Jayden Garnder has been named to the 2021 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year watch list, according to a press release from ecupirates.com.
The Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award is given to the best small forward in the country. Gardner will compete with 20 other players nationwide for the award.
Last season as a sophomore, Gardner led the American Athletic Conference (AAC) in scoring, averaging 19.7 points per game, finished third in the conference in rebounding with 9.2 rebounds per game and finished fourth in field goal percentage at 52%.
As a result of Gardner’s production last season, he received second team all conference honors. He was also voted unanimously by the league’s head coaches for the preseason all conference first team.
Currently, Gardner is No. 18 all time on the Pirates' scoring record with 1,115 points and 19th all time in rebounding with 547, according to the press release.
The Erving award’s inaugural season was in 2015. Stanley Johnson, Arizona (2015) was the first player to be awarded the honor. After Johnson won, Denzel Valentine, Michigan State (2016); Josh Hart, Villanova (2017); Mikal Bridges, Villanova (2018) and Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga (2019) succeeded his title as the best small forward in the nation.
Since the award’s inaugural season in 2015, some notable winners are 2019’s Rui Hachimura from Gonzaga University and 2016’s Denzel Valentine from Michigan State University. An AAC player has yet to win the award.
Among the AAC, The University of Memphis’ sophomore D.J. Jeffries is on the watch list. Amongst other North Carolina schools listed are Duke University forwards freshman Jalen Johnson and sophomore Wendell Moore.