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Point/counterpoint: Will Gatens go in the NBA draft?

BY DI STAFF | JUNE 27, 2012 6:30 AM

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YES

Matt Gatens played out his senior season in an Iowa uniform, and the Iowa City native is ready for the next level: the NBA.

Gatens left the Hawkeyes ranked sixth on the all-time leading scorer's list, took his team to its first wins in the Big Ten Tournament and NIT since 2006, and became the second player (behind Hawkeye legend Roy Marble) to accumulate 1,600 points, 450 rebounds, 250 assists, and 125 steals.

He has also had the Black and Gold in his blood since childhood — his father played basketball at Iowa and his mother was a cheerleader. This showed especially when Gatens decided to stick with the program despite the team's losing ways under Todd Lickliter.

What NBA team wouldn't want a player like this?

His decision to hire B.J. Armstrong (who also is Derrick Rose's manager) to represent him was an excellent choice; who better to teach Iowa's go-to guy beyond the arc about the NBA game than the king of 3-pointers from the '90s?

Gatens played basketball like a man possessed toward the end of the regular season, posting 30 and 33 points against top-20 opponents Indiana and Wisconsin and scoring double-digits for the rest of the regular season and Big Ten Tournament. His numbers dropped significantly in the NIT, but his defensive presence against Dayton played a large part in the victory.

That Gatens has worked out for six NBA teams, including the Chicago Bulls, really encourages me about his chances of getting drafted. I haven't seen the once Mr. Basketball play since the Hawkeyes' loss against Oregon, but I can only guess that he's improved since then.

What Gatens may lack in terms of skills, he makes up for in character — which the other potential draftees might not have. This is a guy who is extremely loyal (he did decide to be a Hawk in ninth grade, after all), hard working, and constantly improving.

Gatens seems like the kind of person who wouldn't care if he's drafted as the 60th overall pick, sent straight to the D-League, doesn't play a single minute, or gets picked up in free agency. He'll do what he can for the team — that much he's proven for the Hawkeyes for the last four years.

Draft him, pick him up as a free agent — do whatever. Whichever team chooses Matt Gatens Thursday night (or after) will make a smart choice, bringing a hard-working, strong character player into the NBA.

Where he belongs.

— by Matt Cabel

NO

Many analysts have dubbed this year's NBA draft as the deepest field in years. That doesn't bode well for former Hawkeye star Matt Gatens.

Gatens hired former Hawkeye B.J. Armstrong to represent him in preparation for the draft. Gatens also had a couple of workouts with NBA teams in the past few weeks. Those things will only help, but how much is hard to tell.

Many Hawkeye fans will remember the hard work he put in as a staple in one of the toughest stretches in Iowa basketball history. The team built by former head coach Todd Lickliter didn't compete in the postseason during Gatens' tenure, which will undoubtedly hurt his stock.

This past year, however, things began to turn around. The Hawkeyes flirted with the Big Dance, but came up short and competed in the NIT.

Gatens had his best year as a senior. He earned second team All-Big Ten honors. He averaged 15.7 points a game and shot 41 percent from long range.

But the NBA desires more.

NBA drafts are famous fixated on potential, and this year's crop is crowded with guards. There are numerous guys ahead of him on the draft board. Florida guard Bradley Beal is considered to be the best 2-guard in the draft, followed by a combination of UConn's Jeremy Lamb, Duke's Austin Rivers, Syracuse's Dion Waiters, Washington's Terrence Ross, and fast-rising Will Barton of Memphis.

All these players benefited from being in the spotlight. Lamb was a part of a NCAA championship team, and the others played at schools that advanced to the national tournament.

Gatens didn't have that opportunity. And even though he played inspiring basketball at the end of the 2011-12 season, his chances of getting drafted are weak. Shooting is his strong suit, but with shooters such as Beal, Barton, Rivers, Doron Lamb of Kentuck,y and Vanderbilt sleeper John Jenkins ahead of him, it'll be hard to see him drafted until the latter part of the second round. His route to the NBA might have to come another way.

— by Carlos Sosa


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