"They came to visit me this spring," the 5-9 PG from Wilson (NC) Greenfield School said this past weekend after a Tournament of Champions game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. "Coach Henderson is the one recruiting me."
It's easy to see why head coaches are making him a priority. Atkinson averaged 25 points, nine assists, six steals and five rebounds this past season as a junior at Greenfield, a small 1A private school in Eastern North Carolina.
He also helped the team to a second straight state championship. His combined record in high school ball over the last two years is 53-2 – and next year's squad is favored to capture yet another crown.
Atkinson was impressive at the TOC, too, leading the North Carolina Gaters to three wins in four games, including a Sunday morning exhibition victory over the Winston-based Kappa Magic that avenged the club's AAU state championship loss back in April.
"I think my best traits are my defense and my ability to create for others," the lightning-quick Atkinson said. "I get as much of a thrill out of a good pass as I do out of scoring a basket."
But he's just so small. He's not 5-10 – in spite of what the roster says – and he can't weigh more than 150 pounds. Yet those who watch him play day in and day out insist that he's big-time material.
"No question," said Gaters coach Darryl Robinson, the father of Clemson-bound guard Shawan Robinson. "He's played really well against some of the more highly touted kids at his position. He has an amazing feel for the game.
"He shoots the ball well – not great – and he's a very good ballhandler. He's going to find some minutes as a freshman at a major university."
Michael Kruse writes for Basketball America and BasketballAmerica.com.