It’s hard enough to make an NBA team roster as a second-round pick, but plenty of players cling to an even tinier shred of hope, accepting summer league invitations in hopes of jumping to the big leagues after an impressive showing.
One such player is Iowa’s Matt Gatens, a senior who is leaving behind a disappointing career as a Hawkeye. He wasn’t a bad player individually, scoring 15.2 points on average as a senior, and scoring several of those buckets with torrid three-point shooting. He left Iowa City as the program’s sixth-leading scorer. He worked out with the Clippers, Bulls, Bucks, Blazers, Warriors and Wizards before accepting the Suns’ offer
“We have a mini-camp in Phoenix around July 9, then the summer league in Las Vegas starting the 14th (of July),” Gatens told Hawk Central on Friday. “I haven’t seen the full itinerary yet.”
Does he stand much of a chance? Not a great one, obviously. However, he does have a skill pro teams — either here or abroad — will covet: he can shoot the dickens out of the ball. Gatens went for 41 percent from behind the arc last season, and he showed extreme versatility, thriving in the slow-down system favored by Todd Lickliter, then transitioning fairly seamlessly to the up-tempo style brought by Fran McCaffery just before his junior season began. The shooting alone could earn him a ten-day contract at some point, provided he can keep up on defense.
It’s always tough to decide whether to take good money to play overseas or keep chasing the NBA dream. For now, mark Gatens down as a dreamer.