The Newcomers

Rutgers Head Coach Steve Pikiell

Photo courtesy of John Munson – NJ Advance Media for

After only one conference win in 2015-16, it was obvious that Rutgers needed an influx of new talent to compete in the Big Ten. To add to that, when the smoke cleared after Eddie Jordan was let go, we were left with only seven scholarship players. That’s why it was so important that Steve Pikiell wasted no time hitting the recruiting trail when he took the job.

In just a few short months, Pikiell changed the entire makeup of the roster by adding much-needed height and versatile defenders. In doing so, he made a statement about how this team will play and what aspects of the game will be emphasized by the new regime.

Let’s take a look at what each of the 6 newcomers bring to the table.

Matt Bullock – Forward – 6’4″  240

Bullock was the first player to commit to Rutgers after Steve Pikiell took the job, and also represents the first New Jersey high school player to commit to RU since 2011 (Myles Mack). He is known as versatile player who has the ability to defend 3 positions. He also won three state championships in high school at Roselle Catholic.

Nigel Johnson – Guard – 6’1″  190

I’m counting Johnson as a newcomer, since he was forced to sit out last season after transferring from Kansas State. He’s known as an explosive player and a slasher who could start in the backcourt from Day 1. Although he was not a Pikiell recruit, he possesses many of the qualities that the coach loves, including athleticism and defensive prowess.

Eugene Omoruyi – Forward – 6’6″  220

Omoruyi is a wingman who played at Orangeville Prep in Ontario, Canada and joined the team in August. He is loaded with potential and should be a big part of the future. Offensively, he has a good first-step and can get to the rim and finish. He can also make jumpshots, meaning defenders will have to stay honest.

Candido Sa – Forward – 6’9″  221

Personally, I find Sa to be one of the most exciting recruits in recent memory. He went the JUCO route and played for two seasons at San Jacinto College, finishing 2nd in the nation in blocks (3.8/game). Defensively, he’s a quality rim-protector and rebounder. Offensively, he’s the classic stretch 4 and can extend all the way out to the 3-point line. Maybe most importantly though, he chose Rutgers over Texas and Pittsburgh.

Issa Thiam – Forward – 6’9″  190

Thiam originally committed to Eddie Jordan in February, but there was some fear that he could bolt once Jordan was fired. However, in May, he reaffirmed his commitment to RU. As a player, Thiam may just be the best shooter on the team, especially from behind the arc. In fact, on Friday night he won the 3-point contest at MidKnight Madness. He also possesses great length and instincts at the defensive end.

CJ Gettys – Center – 7’0″  270

Gettys is a transfer from UNC-Wilmington with only one year of eligibility remaining. He provides more size and depth up front and will be a big part of the rotation. He was a late addition, but he has the ability to step out and make mid-range jumpshots along with scoring at the basket. He also plays with incredible effort each possession. This tweet from Jerry Carino sums up his game best.



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