NORTH LIBERTY — Former Iowa basketball player Matt Gatens hopes to find out fairly soon about his professional basketball options.
Gatens, an Iowa City native, signed with Phoenix to play on the Suns’ summer-league roster and averaged 6.3 points while playing in three of the team’s five games. Against Dallas he scored 13 points while hitting three 3-pointers in nine minutes.
“Hopefully in the next couple of days I’ll have a good idea of what’s going to happen,” Gatens said Tuesday night. “I left on good terms. They (the Suns) appreciate everything I did, and they kind of said we’ll be in touch with your agents and like that. A lot is still up in the air, but hopefully we’ll have some clarity in the next couple of days.”
An NBA team can have up to 20 players on their roster in the offseason and 15 on their final roster. Phoenix currently has 15 players signed.
Gatens said the vibe was different in summer league than playing with Iowa.
“You’re kind of on your own,” Gatens said. “You’re trying to win, but you’re not fighting for a long season with playoffs and everything. It’s a different mentality. You’ve got to be aggressive, whether you’re coming off the bench or starting, and I did both. So you’ve got to get used to that. When you’re name’s called, you’d better get in there and perform and be aggressive.”
Gatens, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, has no contract with Phoenix and can sign with any NBA team if he’s offered a contract. If he doesn’t sign with an NBA club, Gatens likely will play overseas next year.
“There’s enough positives both ways whatever happens,” he said. “If I go over there (overseas), it’s a great chance to see the world and play basketball and have some fun. We’ll see.”
Gatens was named a second-team all-Big Ten selection last year after averaging a team-high 15.2 points a game. He ranks sixth in scoring all-time at Iowa with 1,635 points and is the first Hawkeye to lead the team in free-throw shooting all four years.
In February, Gatens scored 30 points against Indiana and 33 against Wisconsin, the first time since at least 1997 that a player scored 30-plus back-to-back against ranked Big Ten opponents. He sank a school-record 12 straight 3-pointers during those games and was the first Iowa player to score 85 or more points in a three-game span since Roy Marble in 1989.
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