Quick Take Q&A: Jayden Gardner

Virginia Cavaliers
Jayden Gardner slams home a bucket for Virginia. ~ Photo courtesy Matt Riley/Virginia Athletics Media Relations

The Virginia basketball team earned its way into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed and co-ACC Regular Season Champions. One player that helped the Hoos work their way back to the brackets? Senior Jayden Gardner, who will be playing in March Madness for the first time.

The Hoos open the NCAA Tournament on Thursday in Orlando against Furman at 12:40 p.m.

Gardner, a 6’6″ forward from North Carolina, is the team’s second-leading scorer at 12.1 points per game and he averages 5.8 rebounds as well. He’s received All-ACC honors both years of his career at UVA, landing a third team spot last season and an honorable mention nod this year. He averaged 15.7 points and 8.7 rebounds in the ACC Tournament where he was selected to the All-Tournament first team.

Through a Name, Image, and Likeness partnership with Hook Sports Marketing, Friends Of The Sabre members and some randomly selected subscribers were invited to an exclusive Zoom interview prior to the ACC Tournament with Gardner. You can join Hook’s 4819 Club or Friends Of The Sabre for future potential NIL activities. Below are some excerpts from the interview that focus on specific parts of Gardner’s time with UVA. (Editor’s note: the questions below do not appear in chronological order from the live interview.)

Jayden Gardner Quick Take Q&A

The Sabre: It’s easy for us to get caught up in the longevity of ACC Regular Season Championships so this is six in 10 years and obviously we’ve seen all of those, but for you guys it’s one in one year. It’s a little different for you considering how much time you put into it from Italy all the way through now. Can you reflect on what this year has been like starting in Italy?

Jayden Gardner: It’s been a journey, but it’s also been very quick. I feel like this year has been the fastest year. Italy was a great time, a great experience and I think this year built upon last year. I think all the stuff we did last year wasn’t for naught. We gained on our experience, we got a really good transfer, we got some freshmen so everything’s been building towards what we accomplished.

The Sabre: Senior Day was super emotional for you, which I thought was really cool to be honest to just see how much it meant to you. What was kind of going through your mind when the moment arrived?

Jayden Gardner: Just letting it all process. I had a good talk with my chaplain before the game and it just got me emotional and then just seeing the guys get honored and thinking about all the time we spent together, it means a lot. These two years went by fast, but they’re special to me and UVA’s got a special place in my heart.

The Sabre: Sometimes the postseason can be harder, ACC Tournament is consecutive days if you win, NCAA Tournament is every other day if you win. How does Mike Curtis prepare you guys to deal with those short turnarounds?

Jayden Gardner: He does a good job with illustrating the practice plan around what we do and also recovery whether it’s Normatec or a cold tub or floatation device. He also gives protein shakes and vitamins to have after we’re done with practice. He provides suggestions and he’s been a really good strength coach.

The Sabre: Isaiah Wilkins as a coach. We think of him as a player. What’s he like as a graduate assistant coach? What kind of pointers is he pointing out?

Jayden Gardner: [Coach Bennett] trusts him a lot so he’s telling