UNC Wilmington 7-footer C.J. Gettys is learning to play big

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C.J. Gettys

C.J. Gettys leapt into the air off of two feet, lifting the entirety of his frame off the hardwood – no small task at 7-foot-1 and a listed 275 pounds (and quite possibly more.

Gettys stretched his arms high above the hoop, before slamming the ball through the cylinder with such force that it brought the entire base of the basket support off the ground, leaving the backboard swaying for a full minute after the authorities dunk and seeming to shake even the farthest quarters of Matthews Arena.

It was an impressive sight to witness, and terrifying event to feel standing underneath the hoop. The problem was, that it came an hour before tip-off on Jan. 5, and once the ball went up against Northeastern, that C.J. Gettys was nowhere to be found, finishing the game with just two points in eight minutes of action for UNC Wilmington.

But he’s been showing up a lot more ever since.

“He’s getting better everyday,” said UNC Wilmington head coach Kevin Keatts.

Despite his mountainous stature, Gettys’ biggest obstacle, according to Keatts, was that he hadn’t understood, let alone embraced, just how big he could be on the court.

“When I first took the job, C.J. Gettys really thought he was 6’2”,” said the first year head coach during Tuesday morning’s CAA coaches conference call.

According to Keatts, while Gettys’ numbers of 5.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 15.8 mintues per game are hardly as huge as the player behind them, the Findlay, Ohio native has begun to make a much more sizable impact on the floor.

“He’s a guy that’s improving every game. He’s starting to get points,” said Keatts.

Through the Seahawks first 12 games, Gettys scored nine points or more just once, but in UNC Wilmington’s last 10 games, he’s reached or surpassed that number four times. In a 69-65 win over a resurgent Towson on Jan. 24, Gettys proved to be one of the difference makers, scoring nine points, pulling down nine rebounds and stuffing two shots, while throwing his weight around in the paint. One game later in a 82-65 home win against Elon, Gettys scored nine points on 4-of-6 shooting including a big slam dunk early on that energized the Seahawks and their fans.

“He’s been a really good energy guy for us, he’s the one who gets the crowd going at home,” said Keatts.

But according to Keatts, Gettys can still play bigger, a lot bigger, and he will be key to the Seahawks NCAA Tournament hopes in march.

“Now he’s playing like he’s 6’7″ — I’m really trying to get him to play like he’s 7-feet tall,” said Keatts.

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UNC Wilmington 7′ 275 pound center G.J. Gettys nearly brought the entire hoop down with a two-hand slam before tip off. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins