US-based rising star Jayden Stone commits to Grand Canyon
Australian Jayden Stone has committed to Grand Canyon University as he announced via his Twitter account.
The 6'3 shooting guard from Perth, Western Australia has been playing for Sunrise Christian Academy based in Kansas, and considered a highly prized recruit. Rated a 4-star prospect by ESPN and the 23rd best shooting guard in the nation, he is widely viewed as one of the top shooting guards in the US for the class of 2020.
Stone was recruited heavily by a number of big programs, including 14 other offers and mainly from Power 5 programs. He has visited Michigan State and Auburn, while also boasting offers from Alabama, Illinois, Iowa State, Kansas State, Georgetown, Mississippi, Tennessee,Vanderbilt, Creighton and Saint Mary's.
GCU landing Stone is considered a huge get by the Antelopes with many expecting the Australian to head to Auburn. It also comes about following the Antelopes immediate parting of ways with head coach Dan Majerle following the cancellation of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. Majerle was quickly replaced by former Valparaiso and Vanderbilt head coach Bryce Drew, with Stone his first key addition since being appointed soon after. It's interesting to note that Drew was head coach of Valparaiso during Australian Ryan Broekhoff's domination of the Horizon League.
“He just loves his players.” Stone said about Drew. “He wants what’s best for the player cause ultimately that’s what translated better to a successful program.
“I love the coach. It’s a father and son type relationship. He got fired from last position at Vanderbilt so when he got the job I had been praying to God asking where I should go. Then coach drew popped up.”
A sweet-shooting guard with experience playing against some of the best talent in the US on the EYBL Nike circuit last spring and summer, Stone will be hoping to work his way into Drew's rotation immediately. Sunrise Christian Academy had been seeded third in the GEICO Nationals before the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus global pandemic.
Stone's father Shawn was also a shooting guard out of California State-Northridge, and played in the Western Australian State Basketball League as an import before settling down under with his family. Wanting to pursue his own basketball ambitions, Jayden left Australia at the age of 15 to follow in Ben Simmons' footsteps.
“I shared with my mum the experience of Ben Simmons and she reluctantly gave me the OK to go," further explained Stone. "It was tough because my mother, grandma, grandpa and sister are my everything. So leaving them behind was tough.
“I felt like I needed an extra push. I wanted to at least aim for the top. I was hungry and I had some setbacks like getting cut from state teams and what not, but I knew that with some height and weight I could be good.”
Finishing sixth in the WAC in 2019/20, with a new head coach and roster changes, the Antelopes will be looking to move up the pecking order next season. Stone's ability to contribute straight away may well determine how successful they are.