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Homegrown Hawkeye Matt Gatens happy to return to where it all started

Matt Gatens was mowing his lawn when he got the call offering him the men's basketball...
Matt Gatens was mowing his lawn when he got the call offering him the men's basketball assistant coaching job at Iowa.
Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 4:26 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Homegrown Hawkeye Matt Gatens is happy to be back where it all started.

“It’s taken a little moment for it to all soak in,” he said.

Gatens, a four-year starter for Iowa from 2009 to 2012, will replace Kirk Speraw as the assistant men’s basketball coach, who announced his retirement last month. The Iowa City native had quite the career with the Hawks, registering 1,635 points which ranks tenth in Iowa history. His 239 3-pointers rank third.

“You know I’m thankful to coach for the opportunity,” said Gatens. “It’s special and cool that he wants to have a former player on the staff. Coach Speraw has done an incredible job with these last 12 years and he wanted to maintain that, and keep that going, so it was a unique opportunity.”

The move reunites Gatens and head coach Fran McCaffery. His final two seasons at Iowa were McCaffery’s first as head coach.

“Being someone who knows Coach McCaffery, knows how he wants to play, knows how he wants to recruit. I obviously haven’t been here for 10 years, but I’ve watched games, I’ve stayed in touch with him and the coaches,” said Gatens.

Gatens went on to play professionally overseas. As someone who was once in their shoes and under the same leadership - that’s earned him some credibility among current players.

“So far I’ve loved working with him. We’ve been working out after practice,” said sophomore forward Payton Sandfort. “He didn’t recruit me at Drake, but I knew about him, watched practice and stuff. Obviously, I really like the hire. I’m super excited to get to work with him, especially with the career he had here,” he added.

“When my dad used to broadcast for Big Ten Network, I used to come to games all the time when I was younger. Matt Gatens used to come to those games too, so I’m happy he’s an assistant here. I think it was a great hire,” said junior forward Kris Murray.

After spending the last four seasons at Drake, Gatens says he’s happy to be home.

“To actually live here again, raise my family here, it’s special. I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”

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