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Notre Dame Basketball

D-I Head Coach | Yale Transfer Paul Atkinson A Good One For Notre Dame

January 10, 2021

Paul Atkinson can’t help the Notre Dame basketball team this year, but after speaking with several people, it’s clear they believe the Yale graduate transfer will help the Irish next year in a major way.

“That’s a good pickup,” said one Division-I head coach, who has coached against Atkinson. “He’s a tough. He’s a legit 6-10.

“Obviously (the Bulldogs) were really good. They beat Clemson on the road. They had some good wins. They won the League. He’s good.”

Atkinson was named Co-Player of the Year in the Ivy League for the 2019-20 season, but the conference decided against playing this season because of COVID-19 concerns.

“He’s a 5, he’ll be a 5 for them,” the coach said. “He doesn’t shoot it much. He may have made a couple threes last year, but he’s really, really good 15 feet and in.

“He can score in the low post. He can catch it in traffic and dribble around people and finish. He’s a really good rebounder. He can pass it too.”

It’s the combination of the athleticism to handle the ball, score it and pass it that could make him a focal point of Notre Dame’s attack next season.

“He’s tough to cover one-on-one, so if you want to double him or help off others, he can pass it,” the coach said. “He’s a willing passer. To me, when they’ve been really good, they’ve had a guy like that.”

The coach said he expects Atkinson will be “fine” defensively.

“In the Ivy, he was probably above average,” he said. “In the ACC, I don’t know how that translates.”

Notre Dame sources are very excited about what Atkinson will bring the program, which is why Mike Brey and Ryan Humphrey stayed in consistent contact while Atkinson was playing close attention to the Irish too. The two sides would catch up after games and the communication was always positive, even after Notre Dame losses with Atkinson seeing for himself just how much of a difference he could make.

There’s a handful of former Ivy League players who made the jump to major conferences this season, including Michigan point guard Mike Smith, who is starting for the unbeaten Wolverines, and Alabama forward Jordan Bruner, who also transferred from Yale.

“He’s not as good as Atkinson in my opinion and he’s starting at Alabama and playing well,” the coach said.

But there are other Ivy Leaguers who haven’t made as smooth of transitions.

“I think kids have to be really, really careful making the jump from mid-major to Power 5…unless they’re really, really good like Atkinson.”

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