Gardner-Webb men's basketball signed three standouts to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period.
The Runnin' Bulldogs added All-State wings Jaylen Alston of Eastern Guilford (N.C.) High and Keon Ellis of Leesburg (Fla.) High. GWU also added one of the top big men in South Carolina in forward Gabe Bryant of Dorman (S.C.) High.
"We have three spots to fill with the upcoming graduation of L'Hassane (Niangane), Liam (O'Reilly) and Jamaal (Robateau), and we were able to zero in on three outstanding young men to fill those spots," said head coach Tim Craft, who will begin his fifth season on Friday with 74 wins under his belt. "Jaylen and Keon are both very explosive wings who can score, rebound and defend at a high level. Gabe is a fierce rebounder who plays above the rim and is very physical and tough on the interior. We were very excited to sign each of these young men.
"Each of them are playing for championship caliber programs and coaches, with two winning state championships as juniors and one finishing as a state runner up."
Alston earned first-team Associated Press All-State honors in 2017 after leading Eastern Guilford to the Class 3A State title game. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 22.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game on the season, leading his squad to a 29-4 mark. He was also named Greensboro News & Record Player of the Year for his efforts.
Alston scored 25 points in the state title game loss to Cox Mill (N.C.) High and recorded 21 double-doubles on the season.
Bryant, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound post player, emerged as one of the top seniors in South Carolina with an outstanding summer performance. He played on a deep Dorman (S.C.) team that won the 2017 South Carolina Class 5A State Championship, rotating as part of a 10-man rotation for the Cavaliers.
Blessed with a high motor, Bryant is regarded as a very tough interior player who rebounds with both hands and attacks the basket above the rim with aggression. He collected 15 Division I scholarship offers before deciding on the Runnin' Bulldogs.
The Runnin' Bulldogs signed another state champion in Keon Ellis of Leesburg (Fla.) High, a high-flying, 6-foot-5 guard who averaged a double-double as a junior.
Ellis earned second-team Class 6A All-State honors last season after averaging 12.7 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. He netted 26 points in a state semifinals win over Jacksonville Ribault (Fla.) High and entertained also offers from Troy, Stetson and Eastern Washington.
Gardner-Webb opens its 2017-2018 season with a length road trip to the Sunshine State, beginning Friday night at 8:00 pm against No. 12 Miami in Coral Gables .