After spending four seasons at UNCW, seven-footer C.J Gettys wasn’t sure about his basketball career upon graduation. Fresh off a 2016 NCAA Tournament appearance with the Seahawks, Gettys explored options overseas before deciding to go back to school.
According to an article by the Daily Targum, Gettys opted to pass on an overseas career due to “the money situation not panning out.”
Gettys, who red-shirted his freshman season at UNCW, was allowed to play Division 1 basketball right away. He received offers from top-programs like TCU and Purdue, before eventually deciding to come play at Rutgers. Gettys announced his decision to don the scarlet and white, posting a large image of the Scarlet Knight logo.
Rutgers basketball fans are awfully happy he didn’t turn pro or go to Purdue, as Gettys is a key factor in the Scarlet Knights return to legitimacy. Through nine games, he has started every single contest while averaging career highs in every major category.
The Columbus, Ohio product has an old-school game, using his big-frame to score at will around the basket. In his first season playing in the Big Ten, Gettys currently ranks second in field goal percentage (72.9) behind Iowa’s Cordell Pemsi (77.6).
With his burly look, Gettys brings to mind another former college basketball star: Oklahoma States “Big Country” Bryant Reeves. Although Gettys doesn’t have the shooting touch that “Big Country” did, it’s easy to see why Scarlet Knights fans have taken a liking to him.
In return, the fifth-year senior has reciprocated the love to the Rutgers faithful. Prior to the Scarlet Knights game versus Central Connecticut, Gettys asked fans to “Pack the Rac”, a rallying cry that has gained traction this season. The call-to-arms worked, with Rutgers winning by their biggest margin (42 points) in over 10 years.
It has been a completely different feel in Piscataway this season as well. After years of inept play, the RAC is once against re-energized. And a big part of that has been C.J Gettys, who has become the poster-boy for head coach Steve Pikiell’s defensive vision. The Scarlet Knights currently are ranked first in offensive rebounds out of every “Power Seven” conference school.
Gettys stats are impressive, especially since Pikiell is being frugal with his minutes (20.1 per game). However, it has been Gettys effortless transition from UNCW to Rutgers that has made him so valuable. The transition was made much easier having someone to relate to, he found that in forward DeShawn Freeman.
The two Rutgers front-court players have formed a strong bond both on and off the court. With Gettys and Freeman both having southern routes, they made fast friends and spend a lot of free time together. The pair even has a Twitter hashtag to signify their friendship (#GhostGang), which has made waves across Rutgers social media.
Rutgers’ quest for an NCAA Tournament berth makes its next stop at Stony Brook on December 10th. Of course, the significance of that game won’t just be on the court, as head coach Steve Pikiell cut his teeth in coaching at Stony Brook. In his 11 seasons with the Seawolves, Pikiell led them to four regular-season conference titles.
Big Ten conference games start in less than three weeks. It will be interesting to see if Gettys is up to the challenge of playing against some of the nation’s top big-men.
The most intriguing showdown for Gettys will be on Valentine’s Day against Isaac Haas of Purdue. Haas is also seven-feet tall and skilled at both ends of the court. In past years, a guy like Haas would make Rutgers players look like the JV team. Hulking over the smaller Scarlet Knights and rebounding at will.
This year should be different because of C.J Gettys; the mammoth in the middle of the most surprising team in the country.