The Todd Lickliter era of Iowa basketball was not an easy one. Even the first couple seasons of Fran McCaffrey's tenure as the Hawkeyes headman were pretty tumultuous, simply in his attempt to recover the program from the ashes of irrelevance.

From Steve Alford's last season of 2006 to 2013, Iowa didn't have a single NCAA Tournament birth. Over that time frame, their overall record was 109-122 and 45-79 in conference play. My 9 to 16-year-old self was not a happy Hawkeye fan.

But, there were still bright spots during that time for die-hard Hawks: Adam Haluska was a monster as a senior, Jake Kelly was a short-lived light of potential (until he transferred to Indiana State), Devyn Marble and Aaron White began their careers in Iowa City, and one player came in during the worst times of it all, still played his heart out, and, as a senior, led the team back to their winning ways for the first time in five years.

Matt Gatens was the freaking man to me and every other budding basketball lover in the state of Iowa from 2008 to 2012.

In his four years playing in his hometown of Iowa City, Gatens scored in double figures every year, culminating in a senior year where he put up career highs of 15.2 points and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 41 percent from three. He also hauled in 3.6 rebounds and dished out 2 assists per contest that season.

Now, one of my childhood heroes and idols is coming home.

As announced today by Iowa Athletics, the former All-Big Ten forward is joining Fran McCaffrey's staff this year:

For the last two seasons, Gatens served as an assistant under Darian DeVries on the Drake men's basketball staff -- prior to that he was the director of operations for the Bulldogs.

This is what Gatens said in Iowa's press release:

I am thrilled and truly honored to be rejoining the Iowa men’s basketball program. 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 twelve 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.

Iowa, Iowa State, and UNI Football Players Headed to the NFL

Young men from all three state schools are getting their opportunities to play at the next level, whether they were drafted or picked up as free agents. Here's where they landed!

$2 Million Sprawling Mansion in Bloomfield, Iowa