It's been an offseason of upheaval for Iowa's men's basketball coaching staff. First Billy Taylor departed to become the head coach at Elon. He was replaced by an internal promotion, with Courtney Eldridge moving from director of recruitng and player development to assistant coach. Then Kirk Speraw, one of Fran's right-hand men and an assistant at Iowa since Fran got here back in 2010, announced his decision to retire. So who would replace Speraw on the Iowa sidelines? A month later we know the answer -- and it's a familiar face.
— Iowa Mens Basketball (@IowaHoops) June 9, 2022
Iowa City native and former Hawkeye @mattgatens hired as assistant coach
"I look forward to representing Hawkeye Nation and competing for championships in a place that I call home."
: https://t.co/FsfAvQg358 pic.twitter.com/j0MSHymGfQ
Welcome home, Matt Gatens.
This is not just a homecoming as a return to the program of his playing days, this is a literal homecoming for Gatens -- he's an Iowa City native who played his prep ball at Iowa City High. Gatens was a star for the Little Hawks, helping them to a 4A state championship and earning Mr. Baskebtall and Gatorade Player of the Year honors as a senior. Gatens opted to stay home for his collegiate career, attending Iowa from 2009 to 2012. He was a four-year starter at Iowa, a two-team team captain who was named to the All-Freshman team in 2009 and twice received All-Big Ten honors. Over 128 games at Iowa he scored 1635 points (10th most all-time) and splashed 235 three-pointers (3rd most all-time).
After graduating from Iowa, Gatens played pro ball in France, Spain, Turkey, and Ukraine before an ACL injury ended his playing days. He moved into coaching, first at Auburn as a grad assistant and then at Drake. He spent the past four seasons with the Bulldogs, first as a director of operations and then as a full-fledged assistant coach in 2021 and 2022. While he was at Drake the Bulldogs won 20+ games all four seasons, twice made the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship game, won the 2019 Missouri Valley regular season championship, and made the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Woof woof.
Gatens was well-regarded as an assistant at Drake, so this isn't just a case of bringing home a former player (though that obviously doesn't hurt, either). He has legit coaching chops (he has a good understanding of offenses and can work with has experience helping players improve their shooting form) and can be a strong asset to Iowa's coaching staff. He's also young and has strong ties regionally (especially in Iowa), which should be an asset to Iowa's recruiting efforts locally.
Welcome back, Matt. We're glad to see you in black and gold again and looking forward to your second career at Iowa.