Rebuilding isn’t easy.
Newly minted Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell has one of the hardest rebuilding jobs anywhere in the country. Not only does he have to rebuild a roster, but he needs to fix recruiting relationships and find a way to win in the buzzsaw of the Big Ten.
A few months in? So far, so good.
Despite having one of the weakest rosters among major conference teams, Pikiell has developed depth and intriguing options. That trend continued earlier this week when the Scarlet Knights secured a huge graduate transfer addition, C.J. Gettys. Notably, as a graduate transfer, he will be immediately eligible for Rutgers next season. At seven feet tall, Gettys truly is a huge addition.
Gettys’ size makes him an immediate option for the team, but he brings more than that to Rrutgers. During his four years with UNC Wilmington, he played in 68 games, highlighted by an NCAA Tournament game. Last season, he averaged 15.6 minutes, 5.3 points, and 5.1 rebounds per game for a Seahawks team that made the Big Dance.
Along with those raw numbers, Gettys also put up some encouraging advanced stats. Not only did he finish with a 111.4 offensive rating (higher than any Rutgers player last season), but he also led the CAA in block rate and finished in the top 10 in the conference in rebounding rate. Despite his limited playing time, those are impressive numbers, especially when compared to his new team.
Yet, what Gettys did at UNC Wilmington matters less than what he can do with the Scarlet Knights next season.
He isn’t exactly joining the 1996-’97 Chicago Bulls. Though Rutgers has a few solid pieces — Corey Sanders and Jonathan Laurent — there are plenty of gaps across the lineup and on the bench. Gettys will have ample opportunities to contribute.
Just look at some of the players who will compete against Gettys to start at center. Shaquille Doorson and Candido Sa didn’t play a minute for Rutgers last season. Ibrahima Diallo finished with a dreadful 80.6 offensive rating. Even if those players improve, it’s easy to see a path to playing time for Gettys.
Naturally, there will be concerns about Gettys and his readiness to play in the Big Ten. He played limited minutes in a conference that sent one team to the NCAA Tournament. Going from that to a seven-bid Big Ten isn’t exactly a small jump. UNC Wilmington might have been good, but this will be a different world for Gettys.
Even with these concerns, it’s hard not to like what Gettys can offer Rutgers heading into next season. Though he may not be the clear-cut front-runner to start next year (he likely will), he should still upgrade the position for the Scarlet Knights. That’s all Pikiell can ask for in chapter one of his rebuild at Rutgers.