July 3, 2013
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 — Former University of Iowa men’s basketball player Matt Gatens sat down with hawkeyesports.com on July 2 to catch up on his rookie professional basketball experience and what he’s up to this summer. The Hawkeyes’ sixth all-time leading scorer is in Iowa City for most of the summer training before finding out where he will play his second season of professional basketball.
Next week, Gatens can be seen on NBA-TV during NBA summer league games in Orlando. @IowaHoops will update game times, stats and information on Gatens while he is playing in the Sunshine State.
What’s it like to be back in Iowa City for most of the summer?
“It has been great coming back to my roots, and being able to see family and friends. I’ve been relaxing most of the time. I’ve also been able to work out with my former teammates and stay in shape.”
How was your first-year of professional basketball experience?
“It was a good experience. To play in the top league in Spain was a nice way to start my professional career. I played with some good guys and learned a lot about the game of basketball, while also learning about the culture in Europe. It was good experience for me and my fiancé.”
What was it like living in a new country and experiencing a new culture?
“It was something that I was happy to be able to do. To try a new language, different food, and customs, is something that I will remember forever.”
What was your favorite memory on the court last year?
“Our last-second win over a good Valencia team. It was a back-and-forth game, and we had a last-second tip-in to win the game by two points. I set the back screen for the lob pass with 0.7 seconds left. It was a memorable moment.”
What are some of the biggest differences between the college and professional games?
“The talent level is a step up. In college, you play against 18-22-year-olds or so; in the pros, you are playing 23-35-year-olds — grown men who have a ton of experience and have been around the game for a long time. Also, everyone has good fundamentals, are good shooter and passers, even the big guys.”
You had your fiancé over there, but how nice was it having family come over for a couple weeks?
“Having family come over and visit gave us something to look forward to during the year. We were lucky that both her family and my family were able to make a trip over there. It was a lot of fun. Having them there for Christmas and being around family for the holidays was a plus.”
What do you have going in July?
“I’m leaving July 3 for Orlando and the Magic for their summer league, which is July 7-12. I’m doing that the next week or so and then I’ll be back in Iowa City training and waiting to see where my next stop will be next season.”
What parts of your game improved the most the last year?
“I would say my aggressiveness. When I first started my professional journey last summer, I was new to everything. I was a rookie and not the most aggressive shooter. Now, I know what to expect. As last season progressed, I got more aggressive and stepped up in different spots. I think that’s the key thing for me to do — to not be afraid, play with confidence and shoot the ball.”
If you don’t make an NBA roster, will you be back on the same European team or possibly a different one?
“I haven’t really talked to my agents yet about going back to the same team. I would like to keep moving up in the ranks, maybe see a different country. I’m open to anything. My agents pick the teams that are most reliable, and I trust them and we’ll see where it goes.”
What is your reaction to former teammate Aaron White making the World University Games USA roster?
“It’s cool. I’m proud of him. To come from barely being recruited in the Big Ten to being selected for this team after his sophomore year is an impressive feat and testament to his work ethic. This will be an experience he will remember for the rest of his life. Hopefully, he and the team have success and bring home a gold medal.”