Iowa freshman Matt Gatens has the talent to play virtually every position on the court, including point guard, Iowa Coach Todd Licklier said.
“I saw games last year where Matt Gatens handled the point for (Iowa) City High,” Lickliter said. “He’s capable. I’m not saying I’m going to do that, but we’re going to put it into guys’ hands that we trust.”
Gatens (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) was an all-around machine for Iowa City High last year. He led the Little Hawks to the Class 4A state title, scoring 24 points against Davenport Central. He holds the Mississippi Valley Conference points record and was named Iowa’s “Mr. Basketball.” He committed to Iowa under Steve Alford and reaffirmed that decision with Lickliter.
“He’s an excellent player,” Lickliter said. “We’re excited. Obviously, we think he’s going to adjust physically. Emotionally, he’s very mature. He’s a skilled basketball player. We’re excited.”
Gatens competed at Iowa City High with Lickliter’s son, John, who primarily played point guard with the Little Hawks. John Lickliter is a walk-on at Iowa.
Iowa has two likely choices at point guard with sophomore Jeff Peterson and freshman Anthony Tucker. Junior transfer Jermain Davis also has worked at the point and could see time there as well.
Gatens’ role could vary from off-guard to power forward. He’s also versatile enough to bring the ball up the court or play defense in the post.
“I think he’s very capable of seeing the floor a lot,” Coach Lickliter said. “And that’s not to say he’s going to have to carry us. I do think he’s going to be able to make that adjustment to college in a way that maybe some others that are good players can’t make just because they don’t have the physical attributes to do it.”