DALLAS, Texas – East Carolina junior forward Jayden Gardner was unanimously selected to the 2020-21 preseason American Athletic Conference First-Team as voted upon by the league’s 11 head coaches, the conference revealed Wednesday. Also announced was the preseason coaches’ poll with the Pirates tabbed to finish ninth.

As a sophomore Gardner earned second-team all-conference honors after he led The American in scoring (19.7 ppg), finished third in rebounding (9.2 rpg) and fourth in field goal percentage (.521). He is the only player in conference history to finish among the top five in each of the aforementioned categories in the same season.

Gardner finished second in the conference in offensive rebounds (2.9 orpg) and double-doubles (13) and was fourth in minutes played (34.5 mpg) a year ago.

He enters the 2020-21 season ranked 18th all-time at ECU in scoring with 1,115 points and 19th in rebounding with 547 boards.

Houston’s Caleb Mills, who was also a unanimous first-team selection, was voted Preseason Player-of-the-Year. Cincinnati’s Keith Williams, SMU’s Kendric Davis and Tulsa’s Brandon Rachal joined Gardner and Mills on the squad.

Chris Vogt of Cincinnati along with D.J. Jeffries and Lander Nolley II of Memphis, South Florida’s Alexis Yetna and SMU’s Tyson Jolly were named preseason all-conference second team.

With nine first-place votes, Houston was selected to win The American conference title by the coaches collecting 99 points. Memphis received the other two first-place votes and was picked to finish second with 90 points. SMU tallied 80 points to finish third in the voting followed by Cincinnati in fourth with 77 points.

The American’s men’s basketball championships will be contested at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, March 11-14.

The full conference schedules, along with television selections and game times, will be announced at a later date.

2020-21 AAC Preseason Poll
1Houston (9)99
2Memphis (2)90
7Wichita State44
9East Carolina34

(first place votes in parenthesis)

Preseason Player of the Year
Caleb Mills, Houston
Preseason Rookie of the Year
Moussa Cisse, Memphis
First Team
Keith Williams, Cincinnati
Jayden Gardner, East Carolina*
Caleb Mills, Houston*
Kendric Davis, SMU
Brandon Rachal, Tulsa
Second Team
Chris Vogt, Cincinnati
D.J. Jeffries, Memphis
Landers Nolley II, Memphis
Alexis Yetna, USF
Tyson Jolly, SMU

(* denotes unanimous first-team selection)