basketball Edit

OPINION: Princeton transfer Zach Martini is just the guy Rutgers needs

There is no denying the truth that this past season was the worst offensive unit Rutgers fans witnessed under Steve Pikiell since his first season on The Banks.

Except for a few games this season, Rutgers performed very poorly on the offensive end of the floor as the Scarlet Knights failed to crack 50 points twice this season and averaged just 65.4 points per game, which rates near the bottom of Division I basketball. Rutgers also struggled mightily in almost every offensive category this past season as the Scarlet Knights finished 299th in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom.

To pretty much sum it up, this offense was absolutely brutal to watch this year.

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there was a mass exodus of players at the conclusion of the season.

Antonio Chol was the first player from the roster to declare he was entering the transfer portal. Chol was then followed by Derek Simpson, Antwone Woolfolk, Mawot Mag, Cliff Omoruyi, Gavin Griffiths, and several walk-ons.

Listen, you hate to see these guys leave but let’s be honest with ourselves, even though they worked their tails off this past season, this group just couldn’t deliver on the offensive end of the floor.




Overall, Rutgers was not a good shooting team this past season. All too often players smoked layups, bricked mid-range jumpers, and finished poorly on put backs near the rim. But, the biggest glaring weakness from Rutgers this past season was how poorly they shot the ball from the perimeter

As a unit, Rutgers shot a horrid 28.7% from three-point range, which rates 350th in all of college basketball.

Take a second to think about that.

Rutgers finished 350th out of 362 teams in all of college basketball in three-point shooting!

Rutgers was the 12th worst three-point shooting team in the country. Only Maryland was nearly as bad as Rutgers in three-point shooting as the Terrapins shot 28.9% and finished 347th in the country.

You’re just not going to win many games shooting 28.7% from beyond-the-arc.

Of the high volume three-point shooters on Rutgers this past season, only Noah Fernandes shot over 35% from three-point range but for the rest of the team the numbers are really ugly.

Aundre Hyatt, the team’s highest volume three-point shooter, started off the season strong from deep but fizzled out in the end shooting 31.2% on 49-of-157. Derek Simpson, who was expected to take the next leap forward as a sophomore, shot a dreadful 28.2% on 20-of-71 from three-point range. Hailed as one of the purest shooters in the 2023 recruiting class, freshman Gavin Griffiths disappointed from three-point range as he shot 28.2% on 31-of-110 from deep.

During the course of Big Ten play, teams dared Rutgers to shoot from deep because chances are the Scarlet Knights would likely miss.

Bottom line, Rutgers did not have a reliable threat from deep.


With much of Rutgers’ frontcourt hitting the transfer portal at the conclusion of the regular season, Steve Pikiell took little time to scour the transfer portal and he zeroed in Princeton’s Zach Martini.

You may ask yourself, why Zach Martini?

Well, for starters, Martini is a 6’7, 240-pound rugged veteran with extreme toughness and physicality, and possesses great leadership qualities.

Oh, and he’s known for shooting the three-ball really well.

Martini’s roots begin in New Jersey where he was a 1,000 points scorer and grabbed 1,000 boards in his high school career at Gill St. Bernad’s. Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson then secured a commitment from Martini, where he went on to provide three solid seasons for the Tigers and helped them reach the NIT and the NCAA Tournament.

This past season at Princeton, Martini scored in double-figures at least ten times and drilled a three-pointer in all but two games while averaging just shy of 39% on 60-of-156 from three-point range.

It’s clear Pikiell is in search of a player who can help solve his team’s three-point shooting issues, and Martini appears to be the weapon of choice.

Martini should be no mystery to Rutgers as he registered 10 points and shot 2-of-3 from deep in aiding Princeton to a 68-61 victory over the Scarlet Knights this past November.

In several clutch moments this year, Martini drained multiple in game three-point shots. Martini was instrumental in Princeton’s 84-82 win over Delaware this past December as he nailed four three-pointers. Martini shined in other big moments this past season as he drilled four three-pointers in a blowout victory over Harvard and nailed a combined 12 three-pointers in both meetings against Penn.

Kyle Franko of the Trentonian describes Martini as “the glue that holds Princeton men’s basketball together” and people sometimes “forget Martini is even out there.. until he hits a big three-pointer or secures a much-needed rebound or slips to the basket on a backdoor cut.”

Martini is also a very reliable free-throw shooter, averaging 84.7% from the line in the past two seasons for Princeton. Martini also finished this past season shooting 71.4% on 25-of-35 from mid-range. Although he's not a high-volume shooter from mid-range, he certainly possesses the ability to convert on mid-range jumpers.

Unafraid to get physical in the trenches with other brutes, Princeton teammate Caden Pierce described Martini as the guy who “boxes out the hard assignments” allowing for Pierce to grab as many rebounds as possible.


Zach Martini is a fantastic addition to Rutgers and it goes to show how committed Steve Pikiell is to restructuring the roster and improving the offense for next season.

TKR’s very own Richie O’Leary recently wrote an important article just two weeks ago detailing what the Rutgers staff needs to do in the offseason to rebuild the roster, and it appears Pikiell is heeding his advice. The mission was to find players who are the right fit and can complement each other’s styles. Pikiell isn’t looking for players in the portal who make it about themselves, but rather he’s looking for players who are dedicated to playing team concept basketball.

With an extremely talented high-profile recruiting class coming to Rutgers next season, Martini is the glue guy that provides much needed veteran leadership and experience, and he is very familiar with playing team concept basketball.

Expect Martini to be an intricate piece for Rutgers next season, and don’t be surprised if you see him in the starting lineup from Day One.