Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 29 of 39

30 FEBRUARY 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED MEN'S BASKETBALL BY PATRICK ENGEL I n many ways, Notre Dame is Paul Atkinson's alternate route, an extra chapter to his basketball career he initially never planned on writing. If COVID-19 did not lead the Ivy League to shut down all sports this school year, Atkinson would be play- ing his final season of college basket- ball at Yale. He would be defending his 2019-20 Ivy Co-Player of the Year award and trying to steer the Bull- dogs back to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in his stay — per- haps a launching point into a pro career somewhere. Instead, the league decided in No- vember to scrap its basketball cam- paign, the long-expected outcome after having canceled the football season in July. The move launched Atkinson into a second recruitment and down a new path, because the Ivy's rule that graduate students can- not participate in sports meant one more season at Yale in 2021-22 was off the table. "If I wanted to play another year," Atkinson said, "I'd have to go some- where else." Shortly after the league's an- nouncement, Atkinson put his name in the transfer portal. Two months later, after a recruiting process with no in-person contact or campus visits, the 6-10, 220-pound forward chose Notre Dame as his next desti- nation. As a graduate transfer, he's immediately eligible for next season. "It's a team that I think can be re- ally good next year and make a run," Atkinson said. "I could come in and contribute in whatever ways they need me to. That's one of the big fac- tors I was looking for." On Jan. 10, Atkinson announced his commitment to the Fighting Irish on social media, choosing them over finalists Miami, Iowa, North Carolina State and Texas. He saw an oppor- tunity for minutes, a large crop of returning experienced guards, a clear need to fill and an overall comfort. "There would be a lot of playing time at all those schools," Atkinson said. "I don't think that was the big- Atkinson averaged 17.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game en route to being named the Co-Player of the Year in the Ivy League in 2019-20. PHOTO COURTESY YALE Alternate Route An unexpected change of plans paved the way for Paul Atkinson to commit to Notre Dame THE PAUL ATKINSON FILE Ht.: 6-10 • Wt.: 220 Hometown: West Palm Beach, Fla. Last School: Yale High School: Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 2019-20 stats (30 games, 29 starts): 17.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game; 63.0 field goal percentage and 67.1 free throw percentage Awards And Honors: 2019-20 Ivy League Co-Player of the Year, 2019-20 first-team All- Ivy League, and 2019-20 USBWA and NABC All-District

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - February 2021