Eric Atkins, Columbia; professional basketball player

When Eric Atkins was growing up in Hickory Ridge, he played a lot of pickup basketball at Wilde Lake High School. His late father knew the janitor, he says. “A lot of the older guys would come in and play in the evenings.”

From that base, Atkins played prep hoops at Mount St. Joseph and college ball at the University of Notre Dame. His head coach with the Irish was Mike Brey, who grew up in Rockville and once coached at DeMatha Catholic High in Hyattsville.

Atkins, a 6-foot-2-inch guard, played in 133 games for the Irish and ended his college career in 2014 third on the school’s all-time list in assists.

Atkins spent the 2014 to 2015 season with a professional basketball club in Greece, where he averaged 7.0 points per contest. He spent this preseason with a pro team in Hungary before signing with the Utah Jazz of the NBA.

In November, he signed with the Idaho Stampede, a minor league team in the NBDL, before he was waived. According to a Notre Dame spokesperson, Atkins was in the U.S. in early December, looking for his next hoops opportunity.

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