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Fran McCaffery Hires Former Iowa Basketball Player

Fran McCaffrey reacts to a call.

SEATTLE, WA - MARCH 22: Head coach Fran McCaffery of the Iowa Hawkeyes reacts in the second half of the game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KeyArena on March 22, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The surprise retirement of Kirk Speraw from Iowa's basketball coaching staff left a void that head coach Fran McCaffery needed to fill. And today he filled it with a former Iowa star.

On Thursday, Iowa announced that former Hawkeye Matt Gatens has joined the team. He will serve as an assistant under his former head coach for the coming season.

“I am thrilled and truly honored to be rejoining the Iowa men’s basketball program,” Gatens said in a statement. “I have an incredible amount of respect for what Coach McCaffery, his staff and players have built in Iowa City. It’s a privilege to now work for my former coach and someone who I have looked up to since he started here 12 years ago. I’m looking forward to representing Hawkeye Nation and competing for championships in a place that I call home. I can’t wait to proudly wear the black and gold once again.”

McCaffery was similarly thrilled to have Gatens rejoining the program. In a statement he praised Gatens for his contributions to the team as a player and believes his previous coaching experience will let him make an "immediate impact" on the program.

“We are excited to have Matt Gatens rejoin our program as an assistant coach,” McCaffery said. “Matt was a respected leader on my first two teams as Iowa’s head coach. I could tell right away that he exhibited all the necessary attributes to be a successful coach. Since transitioning to the coaching profession, Matt has gained valuable experience working on the staffs at Auburn and Drake. He will have an immediate impact on our program.”

As a player, Matt Gatens was a prolific scorer for the Iowa Hawkeyes. In four seasons he scored 1,635 points - 10th most in school history. 

Gatens was a Second-Team All-Big Ten selection in 2012 and won the team's prestigious Chris Street Award that same year.

After graduating, Gatens went into coaching, working at Auburn and Drake.

Now he's back where his college basketball career began. And Iowa fans couldn't be happier for him.