The setting was different for former Iowa guard Matt Gatens, but not the challenge.
His team needed him to make a basket Friday to eek out a victory at the Portsmouth Invitational, and Gatens delivered just like he did for the Iowa basketball team on many occasions.
The 6-foot-5 Gatens made a 3-point basket from near the top of the key in the final seconds to secure an 89-87 victory. His team rallied from eight points down with two minutes left to play.
Gatens said in a phone interview that he felt confident when he took the shot, which came off a pass from former BYU-Hawaii guard Jet Chang.
“Yeah, I did, it felt good,” Gatens said. “Once I saw the ball come my way, I had to shoot it. There were only about five seconds left and we were down one.”
Gatens made 3-of-7 field-goals overall, with all his baskets coming from 3-point range on six attempts. He finished with 11 points, four rebounds and two assists.
It was Gatens’ second game in the Portsmouth Invitational, which features 64 of the top college seniors in the country playing before NBA scouts at the Churchland High School gymnasium in Portsmouth, Va.
“It was fun celebrating with those guys that you barely know, but you’ve gotten to know over the last couple days,” Gatens said. “It’s just fun chest bumping and getting high-fives and celebrating with a bunch of good guys and good players.”
Gatens also is trying to impress scouts in his quest to become the first Iowa player to be selected in the NBA draft since former guard Adam Haluska was selected by the New Orleans Hornets in the second round in 2007.
His parents and Iowa coach Fran McCaffery have attended the games.
“I feel like I’m doing all right,” said Gatens, who graduated from City High and finished his career as Iowa’s sixth all-time leading scorer with 1,635 points. “I feel like I’m shooting the ball all right. I’m playing a pretty good overall game.
“Coach (McCaffery) is down here, and he complimented me on that. I’m just trying to show these scouts what I can do and avoid things that I can’t do.”
Gatens appreciates McCaffery taking time from his busy schedule to support him at an event halfway across the country.
Gatens played his junior and senior seasons under McCaffery, and together they helped lead Iowa to an 18-17 record this past season. It was Iowa’s first winning season since the 2006-07 campaign.
“It’s really incredible,” Gatens said of McCaffery’s support. “It just shows what kind of guy he is. For him to take almost 72 hours out of his schedule, that shows a lot.”
Gatens will play his final game at 2 p.m. today.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball