The University of Notre Dame men’s basketball program has announced the addition of Paul Atkinson Jr. as a graduate transfer from Yale who will join the Fighting Irish roster for the 2021-22 season. The 2019-20 Ivy League Player of the Year, Atkinson Jr. was unable to play his senior season at Yale due to the Ivy League’s shut down throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am excited to join the Notre Dame family and get to play alongside a group of really talented guys as well as being able to learn under a great coaching staff that will help me further my game,” Atkinson Jr. said.
Owning a career field goal percentage of .661 and 16 20-point scoring performances, Atkinson Jr. will step into a front court in transition next season due to the departure of fifth-year seniors Juwan Durham and Nikola Djogo at the end of the 2020-21 campaign. In a February 3, 2021, ranking from ESPN+, Atkinson Jr. was selected as the fourth-ranked transfer prospect in college basketball.
“Paul brings a great combination of academic and athletic ability to our basketball program and he will work toward an accelerated graduate degree next year,” Glenn and Stacey Murphy Head Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Brey said.
“The timing with his arrival and our roster turnover for next season works out and we are excited to add his skill set and experience to our team.”
USA Basketball Selection
Before his arrival on campus, Atkinson Jr. will get to gather international basketball experience as a member of USA Basketball’s AmeriCup Qualifying Team in February of 2021. The lone college player selected for the team that will compete in the third and final window of FIBA AmeriCup Qualifying, the team will train in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and will play the Bahamas on Feb. 19 and Mexico on Feb. 20.
“It’s amazing to have been invited to play with USA Basketball this upcoming February and I can’t wait to learn from and practice with some really talented pro players,” Atkinson Jr. said.
The 2020-21 FIBA AmeriCup qualifiers feature 16 teams from the Americas zone divided into four groups of four teams. The top three finishing teams in each Group will earn a berth to the FIBA AmeriCup 2022, considered the FIBA Americas zone championship. The USA has a 4-0 record in previous qualifying windows and won the 2017 AmeriCup with a 5-0 record.
Joe Prunty will serve as the USA head coach, along with Othella Harrington and James Jones as assistants. Jones coached Atkinson Jr. in his time at Yale.
Atkinson Jr. Biography
- Attended Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale, FL and hails from West Palm Beach, FL.
- Averaged 20.6 points and 13.1 rebounds in his senior season at Westminster Academy, earning the Sun Sentinel’s South Florida Player of the Year Award.
- Played for the Florida Vipers AAU team.
- As a freshman at Yale, set the school single-season field goal percentage record by shooting .692 and earned three Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards.
- Topped that freshman school record field goal percentage record his sophomore year at .697, finishing third on the team in scoring and appearing in all 30 games.
- Finished seventh in the nation in field goal percentage in 2019-20 (.630), led the Ivy League in scoring and scored 20-or-more points 12 times with seven double-doubles.
- Will finish up his degree at Yale in the spring of 2021 and join the Irish roster in the summer of 2021.
Honors and Awards
- 2019-20 Ivy League Player of the Year
- 2019-20 Unanimous First-Team All-Ivy Selection
- 2019-20 USBWA and NABC All-District Selection
- 2019-20 All-ECAC First Team
- 2019-20 Yale Dutch Arnold Award (Team MVP)
- 2018-19 Yale Bill Madden Award (Toughness)
- 2017-18 Yale John C. Cobb Outstanding Rookie Award