After staying home to play college basketball at the University of Iowa, Matt Gatens is now seeing the world as a professional.
Gatens will play professionally in Ukraine next season after spending this past season playing as a rookie in Spain.
The former City High standout will play for Khimik, which competes in Eurocup Basketball. The league is described as Europe’s second-tier level transnational competition for men’s professional basketball clubs.
“It’s a good opportunity to play in the Eurocup and be able to travel all around and get more exposure and play against some of the top teams in all of Europe,” said the 6-foot-5 Gatens, who played at Iowa from 2008-12 and is the school’s sixth all-time leading scorer with 1,635 points.
Gatens, who is leaving for Ukraine next week, also looks forward to playing games twice a week with his new team. His team in Spain played only once a week. He averaged 9.6 points in 33 games for UCAM Murcia in Spain.
“It’s just a good opportunity to see more of the world and play basketball all over and get more exposure,” Gatens said.
Gatens has researched Ukraine over the past few days and now realizes that it’s much different than he previously thought. He will live in the southwest part of the country and not far from the Black Sea.
“I was a little worried at first because I didn’t know anything about it,” Gatens said. “But I feel good about it now and know that they speak more English there than you would expect and the food is good and the people are nice.
“So I think it all looks good and I’m ready for another experience over there.”
Gatens, 24, hopes by playing in Ukraine that he will move a step closer to achieving his dream of making it to the NBA. He played for the Orlando Magic’s summer league team earlier this month.
“It was good, just not a ton of minutes to go around and not a lot of opportunities to get playing time,” Gatens said of the Orlando experience. “They had a lot of their own guys that were already on the team and they were playing those guys.
“But I’m always thankful for those opportunities. And it was cool to be a part of the NBA, if just for a couple weeks. I got to meet new people and see what I have to work on and keep going at it.”
Reach Pat Harty at 339-7370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball