Rutgers men’s basketball held its annual media day on Tuesday. It was the first opportunity for Gavin Griffiths to discuss his transition from heralded recruit to a college freshman. The former 4-star recruit is the highest ranked recruit to sign with RU during the Steve Pikiell era.
“I’m having a real good time practicing every day. The competition at practice is great,” Griffiths told The Scarlet Faithful. “I feel like the competition is at a high level. I’m learning every day and getting better.”
Pikiell praised Griffiths in his media press conference on Tuesday.
“He loves to be in the gym. I like it. He’s really athletic too,” Pikiell said. “Everyone labels him as a shooter which he is, but he does a lot of things. He can pass and handle the ball. He’s a good worker. The guys like him. He’s going to have a really good year.”
Veteran point guard Noah Fernandes added, “His work ethic and his love of the game. It’s going to take him a long way.”
Expectations are obviously high for Griffiths, who is generally considered by many as one of the best freshman in the Big Ten this season. While Pikiell has tried to temper expectations for younger players in the past, he wasn’t shy in what he thinks Griffiths brings to this team.
“I think he is one of the more talented players in the country and he was ranked that way out of high school,” stated Pikiell. “He should be, he can really score. He has an easy way of scoring. Some guys just have that knack and he has that. I’m excited to have him.”
Griffiths is keeping things simple in how he is approaching his first season at Rutgers.
“I’m just trying to do whatever coach Pikiell tells me he needs me to do,” explained Griffiths. “Whatever he tells me what my role is on the team, that’s the role I’m trying to embrace. I feel like when you just try to go out there and help the team, there aren’t that many expectations because I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team win.”
During the overseas trip in August, Griffiths showed his potential and what he can offer Rutgers this season.
“He was our second leading scorer on our (overseas) tour,” Pikiell said. “Every night he seemed to put up 20 (points).”
Fernandes was impressed by the rookie. “In Portugal and Senegal, those first games playing as a freshman, to see how he handled it and that he was super composed. It was really impressive.”
Now that the preseason is in full swing, Griffiths is looking to learn as much as possible. The 6’7″ wing can obviously help Rutgers as a scorer and shooter this season. However, how he is able to develop defensively could determine his ceiling during his freshman campaign.
Asked what he has improved on the most since he arrived on campus, Griffiths said, “Definitely on the defensive end. I’m matched up with Dre (Aundre Hyatt) all the time and he’s one of the really great players in the this league. Learning from him all the time and physicality, those two things.”
In how Hyatt has helped in his development, Griffiths explained the big picture takeaway he’s learned from the veteran.
“Being able to defend Aundre Hyatt a lot has helped me a lot because he capitalizes on your mistakes very well. Just learning that at this level there isn’t much room for error is a big thing.”
Griffiths is also helping the veterans in their approach as well. In asking Fernandes whether the way the freshman has handled himself so far has benefitted the older players on the team, Fernandes confirmed that it did.
“Definitely,” Fernandes said. “He hasn’t been in the fire yet and he can be that composed, it’s only right as a leader to approach things the same way.”
While Griffiths came to Rutgers as a heralded recruit, he’s embracing being a great teammate this season.
“My personal goals are to help the team as much as I can whatever my role is,” Griffiths said. “The team goal is to win as many games as we can.”
With his attitude, work ethic and skill level, Rutgers fans should be even more excited about this season and the future with Gavin Griffiths in the program.
Below is my full interview with Gavin Griffiths from 2023 media day for Rutgers men’s basketball.
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