Atkins Checks Out Notre Dame

One night in mid-January, Eric Atkins was having another great game, pouring in 27 points and dishing out eight assists for his Mount Saint Joseph squad.

Eric Atkins' performance had Mike Brey leaving the Baltimore gym impressed.

Brey was so impressed, that the next day, the Notre Dame coach was on the phone offering the 6-foot-1, 170-pound point guard a scholarship.

"He told me he sees me playing well with them, just running and setting everybody up," Atkins said.

Atkins didn't know Brey was in the stands that night watching him. People told him afterwards. Already holding offers from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Massachusetts and Vanderbilt, Atkins started thinking Notre Dame could also become a real possibility. He just didn't think the offer would come the next day.

"I thought he was going to come out more than once," Atkins said. "Even though coach (Rod) Balanis had seen me several times, just because coach Brey had only seen me once, it really caught me off guard."

This season, defenders have had problems guarding Atkins.

In earning the Baltimore Catholic League Player of the Year honors, Atkins is averaging 23 points, six assists and five rebounds per contest. Mount Saint Joseph finished fourth in the conference, and the playoffs begin this Tuesday.

Atkins is trying to accomplish two things this March. Lead his team on a run through the postseason, and make his college decision.

"I really don't have any favorites right now," Atkins said, adding that he's equally looking at all five of his scholarship offers.

"I would say I'm looking for significant playing time as a freshman, and a good academic school, which all my choices are. The coaching staff too."

The Irish coaching staff is doing everything they can to land an eventual signature from Atkins. Brey and Balanis communicate with Atkins at least once a week, whether it's by phone or email.

"I like the way they play a lot," Atkins said of Notre Dame. "It's a very open offense. It's not just a set play, he lets their players play the game."

Atkins took his first-ever visit to Notre Dame for the South Florida game earlier this month. His mother joined him on the one-day trip to South Bend, where the Irish won, 67-57.

"I had a very good time on the visit," Atkins began. "Walking around the school was probably the best part. It was a beautiful campus. The religious part of the whole campus was great because my mother is catholic, so she really appreciated that.

"The game was good, and I got to speak to the coaches after."

Before tip-off, Atkins spent some time with Irish players Tory Jackson, Luke Harangody and Tyrone Nash. During the game, he sat next to Mike Broghammer, who signed with the program and will be a freshman forward next fall.

"The guys on the team were very nice," Atkins said. "I could definitely see myself going there."

Atkins has a 3.4 GPA, and is looking to possibly major somewhere in the sports management field.


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