And so begins the next venture of Matt Gatens’ basketball life.
The four-year face of Iowa men’s basketball produced an audition tape of 128 uninterrupted starts, in hopes those in charge at the next level liked what they saw enough to offer him a job.
He’s off to a promising start. In a few weeks, Gatens goes to Virginia for the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament from April 11-14, which will lend even greater exposure for professional scouts preceding the NBA Draft on June 28.
With the completion of seven credits separating him from graduation with a degree in marketing, he’s readying himself for Portsmouth, where alums such as Jeremy Lin, Carl Landry, J.J. Barea and Iowa’s own Reggie Evans have gone on to carve out NBA careers.
“No. 1, I want to get the NBA ball they use and start working out with the new 3-point line,” Gatens said. “In those workouts and camps, you just do what you do. Try to show them what you can do. For me, obviously, it’s shooting the ball, play good defense and good team ball.”
Gatens has been to Portsmouth before, to watch former Hawkeyes Jeff Horner, Greg Brunner and Erek Hansen compete in the tournament.
He’ll be accompanied by Iowa coach Fran McCaffery and will meet with a number of agents during that weekend. Gatens has received advice from Brunner, Luke Recker and Jared Reiner about the process. He’s hoping to become the 30th Hawkeye to appear in an NBA or ABA game.
“That’s been my goal and dream since before I can remember,” Gatens said. “I still have that hope that a phone call comes my way and I have a chance to play on an (NBA) team.”
Should the NBA not pan out, there’s always professional basketball overseas.
“I’ve talked to coach about that — if it doesn’t happen over here, there’s a lot of good money made over there, and you’re paid to see the world and play basketball at a young age,” said Gatens, who’s interested in coaching after retirement.
“If you find a way to make money doing the thing you love, that’s a pretty good life. I’ll chase that as long as I can.”
Before Iowa City’s favorite son and the Hawkeyes’ No. 6 all-time leading scorer figures out his future, Gatens got a taste of his past as keynote speaker at Rock Island Alleman’s boys basketball postseason banquet Sunday evening at Quad-City Botanical Center.
Invited by Alleman coach Patrick Rangel, Gatens opened his remarks to hundreds of Pioneers supporters by joking he didn’t get a senior send-off banquet out of high school — and his Iowa City High squad had just won a state championship.
“It’s nice to reminisce on your senior season. It was cool to be a part of it,” Gatens said. “It makes you think how fast it all goes.”