On Sept. 1, 2016, Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell received what he likes to call a “big gift.” Too big for wrapping paper or to fit in a chimney but the perfect size to go to war in the paint.
With the commitment of CJ Gettys, a graduate transfer, Rutgers received a big man on a mission. Gettys' mission? Teach the Rutgers roster how to play hard and how to win.
Gettys played his final game in a Rutgers uniform, the 7-footer wants his message to drive next season's team.
“I can only hope [they learn from this],” Gettys said when asked about the example he set. “It's not in my control anymore. I believe that they learned a valuable lesson in fighting until the end, until the buzzer goes off. I can only hope that they continue to do that next year.”
Ask Gettys' teammates and the big man accomplished his mission.
“This team has fought all year,” said junior captain Mike Williams. “There's never been a time where we haven't fought. Despite this loss, we'll continue to fight. I'm looking forward to the future. I'm thankful for my seniors, Khalil [Batie] and CJ. I'm going to miss them greatly. I like where this program is headed. I've got to get back to work.”
Gettys did not add to his ring collection with Rutgers. What Gettys does leave with, in addition to graduate school experience, is 33 college starts, 725 minutes, 7.7 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, 26 blocks and one game-winning layup in the Rutgers basketball locker room.
“I've learned that you're going to have a bunch of different pieces to a puzzle, but as long as you can find a way to put them together and make it work, it's going to come together,” Gettys said. “Things aren't always going to go the way you want but as long as you come together as a team, you can have fun with it and make the most of it.”
Gettys made it clear how much he enjoyed six months with Rutgers basketball. The big man turned “cult hero” was unable to find the words Thursday night in his locker room.
“It's tough,” Gettys said. “My career is over. There's not really anything else to say.”