Mars’ Josh Goetz (middle) has refined his game over the last year and is now being courted by several Division I colleges.
ADAMS TWP — Josh Goetz was an unknown a year ago — a tall, lanky and somewhat awkward 6-foot-8 kid with raw basketball ability. College coaches mostly ignored the Mars center during his junior season. “I think I got two calls last year,” Goetz said. What a difference a year makes. Stronger, faster and more confident as a senior, Goetz has been the unsung hero for the Planets, who advanced to the WPIAL Class AAA Final Four and will open the state playoffs March 8. Goetz is averaging 11.8 points and nearly 12 rebounds per game this season. And he is on a lot of college coaches short lists of recruits. The calls, letters and texts have been non-stop. “I’m getting tons,” Goetz said. Some of those calls are from Division I programs. Goetz said he never thought he would garner attention from D-I schools when he was fumbling over his own size 16 feet as a sophomore. Even this year, Goetz didn’t think any D-I programs would come knocking. “I thought I was going to be just an average player,” Goetz said. “Before the season, coach (Rob Carmody) asked if I thought I was a D-I player and I said, ‘No.’” Goetz, though, worked tirelessly on his game during the offseason — and during the season. He worked on his lower and upper body strength. He developed an effective mid-range jumper and he also trained his mind to accept that, yes, maybe he was a pretty good basketball player. “The first and most important thing he needed to do was get confidence,” Carmody said. That wasn’t always easy. Even at a young age, Goetz was tall, towering over his classmates and his opponents. He was the first player the opposition — and their fans — noticed when he walked into the gym. That put extremely high expectations on Goetz, who was still trying to adjust to his body frame. “When you are the biggest guy on the court from the fourth grade up — for some kids, it’s tough,” Carmody said. Goetz, though, has adjusted to his body and has blossomed this season. He’s also stronger and faster thanks to the work he has done with Dale Boring, the Mars track and field coach. For an hour a day, three days a week, Goetz worked with Boring to get the most out of his physical skills. “Oh, he’s strong as an ox,” Boring said of Goetz. “He can push a lot more weight a lot farther and faster. Because of basketball, it was tough for him to make the time to come in and work, but he did it. I applaud him for staying so committed.” Goetz said his work with Boring was invaluable. “He’s helped me tremendously because he knows what to focus on, especially for a basketball player,” Goetz said. It’s a good thing, too, because Goetz takes a beating each night. He’s the only post on a team loaded with sharp-shooting guards. Goetz can be found most nights grinding away under the basket. “I know I’m going to get beat up inside all the time,” he said. Division I programs Air Force and Navy have both offered Goetz a spot in their prep school, Carmody said. While Goetz has not committed to either, nor has he made any kind of decision about where he would like to play next season, Carmody said a prep school may be the best landing spot for Goetz. “His best basketball is two years from now,” Carmody said. “He’ll be 250 pounds. He’ll be more explosive. He’ll be shooting 3s.” Goetz is just happy to get the chance and happy to know he has support. “(Coach Carmody) believed in me,” Goetz said. “Because of that, I started to get confidence in myself.” “He’s made himself into a basketball player,” Carmody said. “It’s great to see.”