Matt Gatens is in limbo for the first time in his basketball career.
As he’s worked his way up the hoops ladder, from junior high to high school, AAU to college, Gatens was always part of a team. Now he has no team.
“It’s definitely different,” said Gatens, the Iowa senior who just returned from last week’s Portsmouth Invitational in Portsmouth, Va. “I’d rather be with my teammates, helping each other out. It’s a different phase of my life, and there’s a feeling of uncertainty. I’ve got to get used to it. I’ve got to take on responsibility on my own. Stay in shape, work on my game and get better.”
Gatens was one of 64 seniors invited to Portsmouth, where he played three games with widely ranging results.
“It’s hard to know for sure, but from the little feedback I got I think I helped myself,” said Gatens, who finished sixth on Iowa’s career scoring list with 1,635 points while turning himself into a top-notch defender. “I hope they liked my all-around game. I would have liked to have shot the ball a little better, but you can always say that.”
Gatens averaged 9.3 points in the three games, but made just 9-of-32 shots from the field including 6-of-20 from 3-point range. He shot 41 percent from 3 as a senior. Gatens did make 3-of-6 3-pointers in the second game, including one from the top of the key with 4 seconds remaining to win it.
“It was fun, celebrating with guys you barely know with chest bumps and high fives,” Gatens said.
He also got a high five from his Hawkeye coach, Fran McCaffery, who spent two days at Portsmouth supporting his player, sitting in on interviews with prospective agents and talking to NBA people he knew on Gatens’ behalf.
“It just shows what kind of a guy and coach he is,” Gatens said. “Those were two days of important time, with the team back (in Iowa City) working out. There were not a lot of coaches down there. It was special, and I appreciated it.”
Gatens still hasn’t hired an agent, and hopes to get that buttoned up in the next few weeks.
“My goal between now and the draft (June 28) is to get invited to some workouts with NBA teams,” Gatens said. “I’m going to play with the guys (in Iowa City), and work to stay on top of my game. And if the phone rings and someone calls to have me work out, I’ll look forward to it.”
Gatens, a second-team all-Big Ten selection after averaging 15.2 points as a senior, said that playing overseas or in the NBA Development League are among other options he’d consider.
“Obviously, the NBA is everyone’s goal,” Gatens said. “But I’m open to everything.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball