May 14, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- For as long as Matt Gatens can remember, basketball has been his life. From youth leagues, to Nike Camps, to state championships, to becoming the sixth leading scoring in University of Iowa history, basketball has been a constant. Now it is time for the next step.
After months of torturing Big Ten opponents, No. 5 is set to make the jump to the next level.
"The ultimate goal is the NBA," said Gatens. "We all grow up dreaming of that. I have heard there is a chance. I am not a first round pick, but there is a chance I could go late in the second (round) or be able to choose a team as a free agent. If it doesn't happen, I am open to overseas and a good situation over there where I could get paid to see the world."
Gatens has completed an important step in the process: representation. He recently signed with Wasserman Media Group, joining a client list that includes the likes of Derek Rose, Pau Gasol and Russell Westbrook.
"Wasserman came in last week," said Gatens, a former City High School standout. "They have a great reputation and are a prestigious group. They had an impressive presentation. At the same time, I wanted to know going into the meeting how bad they really wanted me. I think they sold me on that and trust them. It is a good feeling to know you are part of a big group that wants you."
One Wasserman agent in particular met with Gatens. The two share a definite connection: Black and Gold.
Gatens surpassed all but five former Hawkeyes on the career scoring list. One former UI standout he did not pass is B.J. Armstrong, who stands at fourth. Armstrong and his partner at Wasserman, Jason Ranne, will represent Gatens.
"Having that connection with B.J. helped," said Gatens. "B.J. came and met with us, and I was really impressed with everything he had to say. Especially that he came to Iowa City right after Derek (Rose) had his injury. He was going through a lot with him and took the time to come here and meet with us, so that was pretty special."
After graduation from the UI's Tippie College of Business on May 13, Gatens will travel to Los Angeles to train at the Wasserman Headquarters for a few weeks.
"It is special and gives you great opportunities," said Gatens about the brief move to L.A. "In the offseason, a number of guys train in the same area in L.A. and you have the opportunity to not only be on the same client list, but train with some of the best in the world. I am looking forward to getting a lot out of it and getting to know some of them even more."
While in L.A., Gatens will work on everything from nutrition to basketball skills to prepare for potential NBA tryouts.
"A lot of conditioning and agility and working on basketball skills," said Gatens. "With me, it will be a lot of shooting. If I am going to make a team, I have to prove I am a shooter."
Gatens is thankful for this chance and for all who have helped him along the way.
"Fran (McCaffery) was incredible through the entire process," said Gatens, a 2012 second team All-Big Ten honoree. "He came down to Portsmouth (Invitational Tournament) and met with all the agents down there. He has been a huge help. It was great to have his perspective on it all. My family has always been extremely helpful."
After donning a Hawkeye uniform for four years, Gatens is eager for the next step in his hoops career.
"I am very excited," said Gatens. "For the first time in my career, I do not really know what is next. There is a lot of uncertainty. I am doing a lot of training on my own, which is different. It is part of being a pro.
"I am excited. Whatever comes my way, I am looking forward to it. I get to continue to play the game I love."