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Graduate transfer brings expansive sneaker collection to Rutgers

Graduate transfer center C.J. Gettys rocks a pair of Nike Retro Air Jordan XI Legend Blue Columbia's in a game against Niagara earlier this season. – Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez

C.J. Gettys arrived in Piscataway from UNC-Wilmington this summer to provide the Rutgers men's basketball team with his wealth of experience and height. Little did the Scarlet Knights know they were also getting an upgrade in on-court fashion from the graduate transfer center.

Gettys, an avid sneakerhead, owns a collection of more than 100 pairs of shoes from a multitude of brands and eras, and he isn't shy about rocking them on the court.

“I just got into collecting sneakers in high school,” Gettys told the Targum prior to a practice earlier this month. “I love it. It’s something different. It’s not your normal collecting baseball cards.”

The journey began with a pair of retro Air Jordan 11 Space Jam sneakers from a 2009 release. He began building it from there, reaching a point where he owns so many, he said he can’t fit them all in his dorm room. The majority remain back at home in Columbus, Ohio, for the time being, though he said his dad is slowly but surely sending them over to Piscataway.

Gettys doesn’t have plans of slowing down anytime soon, either. 

He remains up-to-date with all the latest releases, religiously checking the kicksonfire, Sole Collector and Nike Sneakers apps to remain updated. When he’s particularly interested in a certain pair, he contacts a friend in North Carolina, where he spent the first four years of his collegiate career playing for UNC-Wilmington, who owns a shoe store.

Having arrived in New Jersey in the summer, Gettys has already found things to do in the tri-state area that pertain to his hobby.

“There’s actually a bunch of sneaker events that are around here,” he said. “I tried to get up to SneakerCon in New York City a couple of weeks ago, but couldn’t find the time.”

Averaging 9 points and six rebounds a game through his first six contests with the Scarlet Knights, Gettys has emerged as a fan favorite early in the season. Whenever he touches the ball in the post, grabs a board on either end of the floor or puts every last bit of his 7-foot, 280-pound frame into recovering a loose ball, the crowd rises up and raises its collective voice to chant his initials. 

Before bringing 4,028 to their feet with a game-winning putback in the Knights’ 77-75 win over Hartford last Friday, he pumped up a nearly identically sized crowd against Drexel a few weeks prior, raising his arms as he raced back on defense to pump up his new set of fans.

“C.J. plays with great energy. He knows how to play and he's huge out there,” said head coach Steve Pikiell following the 87-66 win over the Dragons. “He's a fifth-year guy, so he's been around a little bit. We're excited about what he brings."

Fans should be just as excited, if not for what he does on the court, then for what he’s wearing on his feet when he does it.

While a fixed rotation schedule has yet to be set, Gettys said he’ll be switching things up throughout the season. He started the season with a pair of Air Jordan 11 retro breds, rocking the iconic shoe against Molloy and Drexel. He moved on to another pair of retro Jordan 11's, this time in the Legend Blue colorway, for the Knights bouts against DepaulNiagara, North Texas and Hartford, and he’s only getting started.

Playing at a program contracted with Nike for the first time in his career, his options now expand to a majority of footwear, making the "C.J. Gettys Sneaker Watch" yet another reason for fans to make the trip to the RAC this winter.

“It’s a lot easier being a Nike brand (school) so I can wear Nike, Kobes, Jordans, KDs. Expect to see mostly retro Jordans. It’s a lot easier too when your school colors are black and red, that’s a main color way for the Jordan sneakers,” he said. “I’m slowly going to break out more and more pairs as we play more … We’ll see. We might go every two (games), who knows.”

For updates on the Rutgers men’s basketball team, follow @briannnnf and @TargumSports on Twitter.

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