Hunter Gatewood once dreamed of playing basketball at Duke University. By the summer before his junior year at Concordia Lutheran he had recruiting interest from NCAA Division I schools.
But Gatewood was open to playing college basketball at any level if the ideal blend of academic and athletic opportunities was presented. He found a perfect match at one of the most selective universities in the nation.
“I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go,” Gatewood said. “My dad emailed MIT coach (Larry Anderson) on Christmas (2011) and he responded back the same day. I realized it would be a great fit because it’s a great school for engineering and for basketball.”
Just before the holiday break, Gatewood received his acceptance letter from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an elite university which accepts only nine percent of its applicants. He previously gained an offer from Anderson to play basketball for the Engineers pending acceptance into MIT as a student.
After more than two years of playing the college recruiting game, including a season with the nationally-ranked Houston Defenders Select club, Gatewood realized his best opportunity for future success might come in a situation less dominated by basketball.
“I wanted to play at the best Division I school I could up until the summer after my sophomore year,” Gatewood said. “I didn’t want to have to focus on basketball and lose school. A lot of schools won’t let you do engineering if you’re on the basketball team because it takes up too much time. I wasn’t going to change my degree to something less time consuming.”
Gatewood has the academic and athletic credentials to fit a variety of universities at any level. He is a two-time TAPPS all-state selection, including first-team honors following his junior season averaging 15.9 points, 4.7 assists, 3.5 steals and 4.2 rebounds per game.
Ranked in the top three in his senior class at Concordia, Gatewood maintains a 4.0 GPA and has an SAT score of 2300. He served as class president during his first three years in high school.
The six-foot, five-inch guard started on the Crusaders varsity team as a freshman, averaging 8.2 points while leading the team in assists (6.1) and steals (3.9). His sophomore year was even better, including 13.7 points, 4.1 assists, 3.8 steals and 5.6 rebounds per game.
Unfortunately, Gatewood’s senior season has been interrupted by a back injury, keeping him out of action until at least late January. He started the Crusaders’ first nine games and played all five positions, averaging 21.4 points and 6.0 rebounds including a 40-point outing Nov. 8 against SATCH.
“Compared to previous years, this year I feel like I have direct control over the game,” said Gatewood, shooting 52 percent and 89 percent from the free-throw line as a senior. “If we’re having trouble I can just get the ball and calm everyone down, and make a play on offense or defense if I have to.”
The Crusaders were 16-11 following an impressive win in their home TAPPS District 3-5A opener Jan. 11. Contributing to the team’s success has been 6-foot-3 freshman Daniel Gatewood, Hunter’s younger brother.
“This is the first time we’ve gotten to play real organized basketball together,” Gatewood said. “Now that I’m not playing, sometimes the other team will get confused when they see him. It’s fun to have two tall redheads.”
Despite his injury, Gatewood has been able to enjoy his senior season knowing where he plans to spend the next four years. During the summer of 2011 he took a key step toward his college future by attending the Hoop Group Elite Camp in Reading, Pa.
As fate would have it, Gatewood became ill during the camp’s second session typically attended by more Division I coaches. However, the first session was enough to gain interest, including from Anderson and MIT.
“Of all the AAU games we played and all the coaches that supposedly watch AAU games, there were 50 times as many coaches all right there,” Hunter’s father, Richard Gatewood said. “I probably got 20-30 emails from coaches about him from the D-III schools.”
Gatewood applied to several colleges including the University of Texas and Texas A&M, schools he could have attended based on ranking in the top 10 percent of class academically. But his top choice was MIT, despite a demanding application process.
“(The application) had a lot of supplemental essays,” Gatewood said. “I wanted to make them all really good so I spent a lot of time writing them, re-writing them and editing. It took a lot of work but I wanted to make it perfect.”
A strong chemistry and science student, Gatewood said he considered medicine before shadowing a few doctors and engineers. The Concordia standout is looking forward to the engineering program at MIT, including selecting an area of expertise.
On the court, Gatewood is eager for the challenge of college basketball for one of Division III’s best programs in recent years. MIT advanced to the national semifinals last year with a group Gatewood had the opportunity to practice with during an unofficial campus visit.
“I like playing with them because they’re athletic, but they’re not just good, they’re smart about how they play,” Gatewood said. “That’s something I’ve been looking for, having a whole team of guys that know exactly what they’re doing. It will definitely be nice to start playing against guys that are a lot better than me. I’m really going to have to push myself in different ways.”