For somebody whose path was always clearly paved as a basketball player, Matt Gatens now faces an uncertain journey.
The former Iowa guard, who committed to the Hawkeyes as a ninth-grader at City High, is currently training in Los Angeles in his quest to play professional basketball.
The 6-foot-5 Gatens would be thrilled to be one of 60 players selected in the NBA draft, which features just two rounds and will be held on June 28 in Newark, N.J., but he’s hardly counting on it.
Free agency is another path that Gatens could take to the NBA. And he also would be willing to explore his options in professional basketball outside of the United States.
“It’s kind of different,” Gatens said Wednesday night in a telephone interview. “It’s kind of the life of being a professional now. But right now, you don’t have a team. It’s all about you and it’s all about how hard you want to work at making people train you. It’s kind of all on us, which I kind of like. I’ll take the responsibility of that.
“But yeah, it’s different being out here. And being away from Iowa City for a while is a little different. But it’s nice out here and I’m training with some good guys.”
Gatens’ father Mike Gatens, who also played basketball at Iowa, is adjusting to not having his son nearby. Matt Gatens has been training in Los Angeles for 10 days.
“It is (weird), but we know that he’s where he needs to be and he’s with a good group, those guys are pros at what they do and Matt has a lot of faith in them,” Mike Gatens said of the Wasserman Media Group, which represents Matt. “And Matt works hard and he’s just out there doing what he’s supposed to do and getting better and getting prepared to give this thing the best shot he can give it.”
Matt Gatens said he’s been told that he could be selected late in the second round of the NBA draft.
However, he was not among the 60 players invited to the NBA pre-draft camp, which will be held next month in Chicago.
“You get seen either way, but it would’ve been an honor to go to that camp,” Gatens said. “It’s a pretty prestigious thing.”
Former Iowa and NBA guard B.J. Armstrong is part of the Wasserman Media Group that is representing Gatens. Armstrong was hired earlier this month after Gatens had interviewed four different agencies.
Gatens is training with and playing against some elite competition in Los Angeles that includes former Wisconsin guard Jordan Taylor, former Kentucky forward Terrance Jones and former Syracuse center Fab Melo.
He plans to return to Iowa City around June 7 and then he hopes to participate in an NBA summer league that plays games in both Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla. Gatens already competed in the Portsmouth Invitational in April in Portsmouth, Va.
Gatens ended his Hawkeye career in March as Iowa’s sixth all-time leading scorer with 1,635 points. He averaged in double figures as a scorer throughout college and was also one of the Big Ten’s top perimeter shooters.
“It would be an incredible feeling and it’s something you’ve worked all your life to hear your name called on draft day,” Gatens said. “But if not, I’ve been told there are some (NBA) teams would like me to come in and work out.
“I just want a chance to show what I can do.”
Shooting guard Adam Haluska is the only former Iowa player to be selected in the NBA draft since 2000. Haluska was drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in the second round in 2007.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball