BOILING SPRINGS – Gardner-Webb men's basketball landed its lone fall target on Thursday morning, as 7-foot center Acton Shirley signed a National Letter of Intent.
Shirley (Zebulon, Ga. / Pike County HS) emerged as a Division I prospect following his junior season, averaging 11.1 points, 9.0 rebounds and one block per game for the Pirates. He also shot 56.0 percent from the floor on the season.
The 7-0, 230-pound center is the tallest signee for the Gardner-Webb men's basketball program since 6-foot-11 center Tim Behrendorff enrolled in 2000 – the first year of Division I competition for the Runnin' Bulldogs.
"Acton is a true big man in the post, but his athleticism, coordination and ability to run the floor were attributes that really impressed us through the evaluation process," said head coach Tim Craft. "He is a relative newcomer to the sport and has a very, very high ceiling in terms of potential. We were thrilled to add a valuable piece to our program during the early signing period."
Shirley had three games with more than 20 points last season, including a breakthrough offensive performances vs. Spalding (Ga.) High on January 19. Shirley made 18-of-24 shots in that game to finish with a career-high 38 points. He added 15 rebounds and swatted five shots in that game.
Shirley posted seven double-doubles as a junior – including a 23-point, 21-rebound effort against Mt. Zion (Ga.) High on January 8.
He earned honorable mention All-Region 4-AAAA honors following the 2015-2016 campaign.
Shirley played AAU basketball for Team Forrest.
Gardner-Webb opens its 2016-2017 season on Friday night, traveling to face SMU in the opening round of the 2K Sports Classic in Dallas, Texas. Tip-off is slated for 8:00 pm, with the game set for broadcast on ESPN3 (WatchESPN.com).