Matt Gatens and Jordan Stoermer have been teammates or opponents most of their lives.
Matt grew up in Iowa City learning to play basketball while Jordan was raised in Coralville where he learned the game.
They became teammates in fourth grade, playing on a team coached by their dads, Mike Gatens and Mike Stoermer.
“I think very early Matt and Jordan both stood out and had great success at that particular time and it was fun to watch,” said Mike Stoermer.
“I was usually the two guard and he usually played the three,” said Jordan. “We had a couple of big guys and point guard around us.”
They were teammates in the summer until the eighth grade but played against each other in junior high, seventh and eighth grades.
“We’ve been rivals since the seventh grade and teammates at the same time.” Jordan recalled.
The rivalry heated up in high school when Matt went to City High and Jordan went to West High.
Jordan came off the bench in his freshman year at West and the Trojans finished fourth in the state.
Ali Farokhmanesh, who would later star at Kirkwood Community College and the University of Northern Iowa, was a junior on that team, one loaded with talent.
The match-ups with City High were intense and put Jordan against Matt.
“I usually guarded Matt every time,” said Jordan, who is a couple of inches shorter than Matt. “Probably not my freshman year, but sophomore, junior and senior year. I cherished those games against City High. The crowd was amazing, the adrenalin and every game seemed to go down to the wire. I had him the first couple of years but he had me his senior year.”
“I think it was a tough match-up for Matt because Jordan knew him so well,” said Mike Stoermer. “It was always a great rivalry but they always remained friends all the way through. It was a neat thing to see.”
Jordan was three-time first team all-conference, first team all-state his senior year and second team all-state his sophomore and junior seasons.
Jordan holds the West High school record in steals with 273, was the second in West career scoring with 1,327 points and led the state in scoring his senior year averaging 21 points per game.
When it came time to pick a college, Jordan had some choices to make.
“I could have went to any schools around here,” said Jordan. “I could have went to a couple of D-IIs but I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do so I decided community college at Kirkwood was my best choice.”
That was not only a good choice for Jordan but also for Kirkwood, as he helped lead them to second and third place finishes at the 2009 and 2010 national tournament.
Jordan was a two-time first team JUCO all-regional, he was the 2010 JUCO all-regional MVP and he averaged 10.7 points per game his sophomore season.
“That was a great experience,” said Jordan who played in high school for Steve Bergman, in junior college for Doug Wagemester and now at the University of Iowa for Fran McCaffery.
“All of my coaches were hardnosed, really determined and they coached just like they want you to play to the last second,” said Jordan. “I’ve been pretty fortunate to have really good coaches.”
Iowa State offered Jordan to walk on before Iowa came into the picture.
“I was going to go to Iowa just to go to school but that was that summer that Iowa State had a lot of people leave so they gave me a call and told me they wanted me to walk on,” said Jordan. “I let the coaches at Iowa know that and they called me the next day.”
Jordan grew up a Hawkeye fan so when he had a chance to walk on at Iowa he said yes.
He remembers watching Luke Recker, Dean Oliver and Jeff Horner playing for the Hawks and going to games in fourth and fifth grade. His parents always had season tickets.
Last year, Jordan once again was a teammate of Matt’s. He played in 19 games, scored in seven and only committed five turnovers.
“I took every year one year at a time,” said Jordan. “I didn’t think I was ultimately going to end up at Iowa but I was hoping it would come out that way. Everything went the right way and a lot of things opened up and worked my way.”
Eric May played with Jordan last year and likes what the former West High Trojan brings to the game.
“He works hard,” said Eric. “He always works hard in practice. He’s a really good guy to have on the team plus he’s a good guy to be around. He’s really happy to be there, he’s good energy.”
Jordan has a big decision to make this summer. The class he needs to take in engineering is at the same time as practice.
If he doesn’t get in the class and plays for Iowa, he will have to come back next year.
Coach McCaffery told him to take as long as he wants to decide if he wants to play.
I told him he has the rest of his life to be an engineer and only one more year to be a Hawkeye.
His dad enjoyed watching him play for Iowa, even if it was for only one year.
“It was almost kind of a little bit emotional, even in warm-ups,” said Mike on Jordan’s first game as a Hawk. “To be a part of the team, to get in and contribute it kind of climaxed the whole thing.”
Whatever decision he chooses, he did get a chance to live out his dream and play for Iowa and finish his career the way it started… as teammates with Matt Gatens.
Next week: Matt Gatens.