Seven-footer C.J. Gettys only has one regret about his summer move to Rutgers basketball. Gettys left his CAA jewelry at home.
“I have two rings myself, two championship rings,” Gettys said. “I wish I had them here in New Jersey but they're back at home in Ohio. I think these guys are definitely willing to listen to me and follow in my footsteps.”
Gettys brings something Rutgers needs in its locker room in a player with legitimate post-season experience. A year after his team lost in the CIT first round, Gettys started opposite Marshall Plumlee in a near-upset over Duke in the NCAA tournament.
“That experience was definitely a life experience,” Gettys said. “It's something that I'll have with me forever, playing on a level like that against a team like Duke with Coach K. At that point in time, we went into that game believing we could win. … We were up at halftime. We fought until the end. We were close and just fell short. It was a disappointment but it was a great season. I hope to take this program there this year.”
This college season almost didn't happen for Gettys. Gettys decided late to return for a graduate season after three years at UNC Wilmington. Gettys put his name out late as an interested grad transfer, and Rutgers was one of the first in for the 7-footer.
Gettys built a quick relationship with coach Steve Pikiell and the rest of the staff. He committed and enrolled shortly after an official visit.
“I didn't know I was going back to school until the very last second, but when I did put my name out there, I had Purdue, Ohio State, TCU,” he said. “But these guys just had the right feeling when I came. It's a great group of guys. I'm just glad to be here because Rutgers is a nice school. It's an educational school. We have a great basketball program here in the making with a new coaching staff. It's a great group of guys. I'm looking forward to what this season has to offer.”
Gettys was not a part of a college conditioning program during the summer, so it was a challenging transition when he first met David Van Dyke and the Rutgers team.
The first month was about getting back into basketball shape. Now, Gettys focuses on a starting center spot left vacant by Greg Lewis.
“Sitting out and not being a part of a team for a time, I wasn't in real basketball shape,” he said. “One of the biggest things I worked on was getting back into shape, running up and down the floor. I was always in the gym over the summer to shoot around but never played competitively. It's two different aspects – being conditioned for a game and being conditioned to shoot around and play pickup. I'm just ready for the year to begin.”
So how does Gettys' post-season experience help a young and rebuilding program?
Gettys said the actions matter more than any advice he could give.
“I think it's better to show these guys what it takes rather than just tell them,” he said. “It's the little things in practice like diving on the floor for loose balls. It's about guys stepping up and taking responsibility for their actions. It's about communicating. That's one area where we have to get a lot better. Communication solves a lot of problems. My experience is definitely helpful to this point. I thought about sitting down and talking to these guys about exactly what it takes.”
Gettys joined Rutgers because he has experience as a rebuilder. He went 9-23 as a freshman before a coaching change put UNC Wilmington in the dance in two seasons.
“Coach Pikiell wants to instill a winning culture around here, and I think we're definitely headed in the right direction,” Gettys said. “I have experience starting in the trenches of conference in the CAA when we weren't a very good team. We brought in Kevin Keats, and he instilled a winning culture and guys just have to buy in. Because I've been through that already, I can help move the process along for the year that I'm here.”null