ECU men’s basketball coach Jeff Lebo announced the signings of three national letters of intent Wednesday.
Jayden Gardner of Wake Forest, DeShaun Wade of Charlottesville, Va., and Mike Wynn of Charlotte will join the Pirates starting with the 2018-19 season.
“We are thrilled to receive a commitment from each member of this talented class,” Lebo said in a news release. “Each helps fill specific needs we have, and all have tremendous upside. This trio represents another piece of the puzzle as we continue to build and improve in the American (Athletic conference).
“We are delighted to have these guys, who come from winning programs and understand what it will take to continue moving our program forward,” Lebo said.
Gardner, a 6-8, 225-pound forward, was name CAP-8 Player of the Year as a junior at Heritage High School after earning co-conference player-of-the-year honors as a sophomore. He was voted first-team all-state in 2017 by the North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association as well as District V Player of the Year.
“Jayden is one of the top players in North Carolina, and we’re excited that he’ll be joining our team next season,” Lebo said. “He is a physical and relentless rebounder with a high motor.”
As a junior, Gardner averaged 22.8 points and 15.8 rebounds while shooting 59 percent from the floor to lead the Huskies to the CAP-8 regular season championship and to the third round of the Class 4A state playoffs. Heritage finished 28-2.
“Jayden has taken the Heritage basketball program to a new level,” Heritage coach Tilden Brill said. “He is a winner both on and off the court. He is a terrific addition in all areas for Coach Lebo and the ECU community.”
Gardner enters his senior year as Heritage’s all-time leader in points (1,154) and rebounds (903). He is the first player in school history to score more than 1,000 points.
“Coach Lebo developed his game to the highest level, and I feel he will help me develop mine to that level as well,” Gardner said. “I really believe he can help perfect my craft so I can play at the next level one day.”
Wade, a 6-2, 190-pound guard, was selected to the 2017 Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II All-State First Team after his junior year at The Miller School in Charlottesville. He earned second-team all-state honors in Group 5-A as a sophomore at Green Run High School and was selected to the 2017 All-VIC Second Team after being named second-team All-Atlantic Conference at Green Run the year before.
“Shaun is a well-rounded young man that comes from a great family,” Lebo said. “We are excited about what he brings to our program from a toughness and leadership standpoint. He has a lot of upside as a point guard and will be a valuable addition to our team next season.” Wade averaged 12.4 points, 4.3 assists and 3.6 rebounds as a junior at The Miller School, shooting 55 percent from the field and 42 percent behind the arc, and helped the team compile an 18-8 overall record.
“I feel ECU is the perfect fit for me athletically and academically,” Wade said. “Coach Lebo has been very supportive of me. The things that he preaches are the same values that my parents have been teaching me all my life.”
Wynn, a 6-6, 185-pound guard, began his career at Christian Brothers Academy in Albany, N.Y., before transferring to Liberty Heights Liberty Heights Athletic Institute in Charlotte. He averaged 21 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals as a junior and was named to the 2017 All-Grind Session Team.
“Mike is a tough competitor who wants to get better in every aspect of the game,” Liberty Heights head coach Mike Wright said. “When he steps on the court his mind-set is always to attack the basket on offense and play lockdown defense. ECU got itself a winner.”
Lebo said he expects Wynn to have an immediate impact for the Pirates.
“He’s going to be a physical presence at the two and three positions for us as a freshman,” Lebo said. “He has the ability to not only score the ball, but to defend multiple positions. He’s got an unrelenting work ethic and a passion to be the best.”