The cousin of Hy Gotkin, Java played at St. John's University in the 1930s.
Birth and Death Dates:
After playing at Thomas Jefferson High School, Gotkin starred at St. John's in the mid 1930s with classmate Rip Kaplinsky. In 1933-34, the Redmen were expected to be one of the top teams in the country. Before the season began, however, the squad's three best players, seniors Nat Lazar, Mac Poliskin, and George Slott, all left school, and it fell to Gotkin and Kaplinsky to lead the St. John's team. The two Jefferson graduates, who had played together for about eight years on various teams before they suited up for the St. John's varsity, stepped up and led the Redmen to a better than expected season.
St. John's began the season by winning their first four games before they lost to the two-time defending Eastern championship team, CCNY (City College of New York), 30-25. The Redmen then won eight of their next nine games, including a victory over Brooklyn rival LIU (Long Island University), a team that had won over 20 games in a row entering the contest. Spurred on by their defeat of LIU, St. John's won four of their final five games of the 1933-34 season and finished with a 16-3 record. That year, Gotkin scored 95 points while playing in every game and was the teamís fourth highest scorer on the season.
During his junior season (1934-35), Gotkin finished the year as the team's fifth leading scorer with 81 points. The overall season proved to be a disappointing one for St. Johnís. They finished 13-8. Included among their defeats were a rematch with LIU (the first time St. John's ever lost to their rivals), and a loss to City College of New York (CCNY). During the season, Java scored 16 points in a 40-37 victory over Providence; it was the highest single-game total of the year on the St. John's team.
In 1935-36, Gotkin and St. John's returned to the top of college basketball with a record of 18-4. Java ended the season as the team's leading scorer with 154 points (tied for the team lead with Kaplinsky and Frank McGuire), 13th in the Metropolitan area. Java also led the team in field goals (with 64), and scored a career-high 17 points in an early season game against Savage College (it was the highest single-game mark of any St. John's player on the year).
At the end of the season, Gotkin played on a college all-star team, made up of Metropolitan players. In an exhibition game, they played the AAU champions that year, the McPherson Oilers, (six of McPherson's players were members of the U.S. Olympic team that year). Gotkin and the Metropolitan All-Stars played well and almost defeated the favored Oilers, but lost in a close contest, 45-43.
Brooklyn, New York
Gotkin played for St. John's from 1934-1936.
Use links below to navigate through the basketball section of Jews In Sports.
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
Inside Sports Magazine: College Basketball, by Mike Douchant with Jim Nantz (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1997)
Ronald Encyclopedia of Basketball, edited by William G. Mokray (Ronald Press: 1962)
New York Evening Post, February 15, 1934
New York Times, March 5, 1934
New York Times, March 6, 1935
New York Times, March 11, 1936