Etou, who debuted Monday night in a win over Stillman College, did exactly as coach Eddie Jordan expected in 21 minutes of on-court action.
"Junior, we sort of called it - he's going to get fouls, quick fouls," Jordan said. "He had to get the speed of the game. He was anxious. He did some good things. He is going to work. It's going to be slow progress for him to get going."
The 6-foot-7 Etou practiced with the team during the entirety of preseason camp, but could not play in the first six games because of an NCAA mandated suspension. The suspension lifted Monday, and Rutgers expects to use him heavily while Kerwin Okoro (knee) and Craig Brown (head) are out with injuries.
"We were hoping to get his feet wet in the Garden," said Jordan, who missed out on the NIT finals after a loss to Drexel. "That would have been the perfect game. Whatever game he was going to be eligible was the perfect game. He had to get in. I wouldn't have minded him playing against Duke or Alabama or Arizona. I didn't mind. I wanted him to get in."
Etou logged 21 minutes for the Scarlet Knights, finishing with six points and eight rebounds against Stillman. He shot 3-of-5 from the floor, with both misses coming badly from long range.
"He rebounded the ball well," said senior forward J.J. Moore. "He's just a hustle player in practice, and now that we have him in games, it's going to be a good thing for us."
Etou, a quiet kid behind the scenes, was not made available after the win but his teammates were happy to do the talking for him.
"It was good to have Junior out there," said junior captain Myles Mack. "He's a great presence down low. He's just a great player in general. Just to have another body, I'm looking forward to having him play these next games in the rest of the season."
Etou projects to have a similar bench role tonight against Farleigh Dickinson in the final preseason NIT game for the Scarlet Knights.
"From my perspective, I'm just happy to have him out there," said senior Wally Judge. "It's tough to miss games. It's tough to watch a team that you're on and not be able to help. I learned that my first year here [after transferring from Kansas State] during my sit-out time. It's tough, but we're happy to have him back."