The morning after Matt Gatens agreed to join the Phoenix Suns summer league team, the Quad-City Times caught up with the former Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball captain.
Gatens dished on watching Thursday's Draft, the experience of visiting NBA teams and what his goals are for the summer games starting July 15 in Las Vegas.
Quad-City Times: Where did you watch the NBA Draft and what was your approach?
Matt Gatens: Just over at my parents’ house, with my family and girlfriend, and a couple family friends. I enjoyed watching it. When it was over, the Suns gave me a call, and told me I’d be on the summer league team. They’ve been in contact with my agent throughout the whole process. I worked out with the Suns twice, along with six other teams in the last couple weeks.
QCT: What stuck out to the Suns about you?
Gatens: The first workout I had down there, I shot it real well and I think I got their attention. They brought me back for another one, and did more of the same. I got real good feedback from them. It’s a good opportunity to make it to a place where there’s going to be some openings, and a chance to make a team out of summer league. Now the goal is to get invited to camp, and then to get invited to the team. It’s a good opportunity, a good organization, I liked all the people down there. I look forward to getting started.
QCT: What has this process been like, transitioning from college and beginning your professional career?
Gatens: It’s been different. You’re on your own a lot. You’re not on a team like you’ve been used to the last eight years of your life. It’s all on you. You’re traveling to all those places by yourself. You’re getting poked and measured by every way possible under a microscope. But it’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed the process. You only do it once in your career, and it’s something I’ve really embraced. There are some great people with good connections in some great cities with great facilities.”
QCT: Your Hawkeyes played with the fastest tempo in the Big Ten last year, and while it’s not the ‘Seven Seconds or Less’ Suns of the past, Phoenix is still consistently is up there in possessions per game. Are the systems similar?
Gatens: You could relate the two. They get up and down and run, pass, spot up in transition – things I like to do. So it’s a good fit, as long as I can continue to impress them and show I have the tools they can use as a player on their team. It helps that I played in a system similar to what they do, so we’ll see.”
QCT: What do you need to showcase during summer league games?
Gatens: My shooting ability. That’s my niche to make a team, to prove I can shoot it and spread the floor for a team, along with being a good team player, good guy in the locker room, guy with a high IQ on the court. It’s proving I can shoot it with the best of them, and now I’ll get that opportunity to show that.