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Notre Dame Basketball

Yale Grad Transfer Paul Atkinson Jr. Sees Good Fit At Notre Dame

January 4, 2021

Paul Atkinson saw it coming, but that didn’t make it any easier when the Ivy League announced in November that it was cancelling the 2020-21 basketball season.

“I kind of knew it was going to happen before they made the announcement,” said Atkinson, who was named Ivy League Co-Player of the Year as a junior for the 2019-20 season.

“I was talking to my friends and we kind of knew it was going to happen, but when we heard it, it still sucked. It’s never easy hearing you can’t play with the teammates you’ve been playing with the last three years. We built a really good connection and I loved playing with them.”

But it did provide the 6-foot-10, 220-pounder with an interesting option to pursue and even before the Ivy League’s official cancellation, Atkinson announced he was entering the transfer portal as a graduate transfer.

On Sunday night, Atkinson announced his destination would be Notre Dame.

He will be eligible to suit up for the Irish next season and will have one year of eligibility remaining.

“I think I fit in pretty well with the team,” said Atkinson, who averaged 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds as a junior. “(Juwan) Durham is going to be leaving next year and that’s going to be a missing piece for them next year. That’s somewhere I think I can help contribute to the team. They just have a great offense that I like and I think I’ll fit in well there.

“They have a lot of shooters on the outside and they have a good big in the post on the inside. I think if I can come in and replace the leading big, I can help them be successful next year.”

Atkinson was impressed with the way Irish head coach Mike Brey and assistant Ryan Humphrey treated him during his second recruiting process.

“They’re great guys,” Atkinson said. “I love talking to them. They’re charismatic and really down to earth. They like to talk and recruited me just like another guy on the team.”

The West Palm Beach, Fla., native is looking forward to his time in South Bend on and off the court.

“Basketball-wise, I’m looking to extend my name, kind of get a bigger platform, get more television time, better competition,” he said. “I’ll be playing against one of the best bigs in the country every couple of days. I think that’s going to be really important to help my stock whether it’s the NBA or overseas. That’s really important to me.

“And just Notre Dame being a really good academic school. Coming away with a Masters from there and an undergrad from Yale is awesome.”

Atkinson has spent the last few months working out a couple hours each day and watching hoops.

“It is tough to see other people playing when we didn’t give it a chance, which is the hardest part,” he said.

“This wouldn’t have been an option had I been able to go back and play at Yale. But since it was, I think that’s why I’m here. I’ve grown to like it a lot and I think it’s really good for me now.”

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