In Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey's system, the point guard is arguably the most important position on the floor. The player in that spot represents an extension of Brey's voice on the court during a game and in practice.
Since Brey's arrival in 2000, there has been a long list of outstanding point guards -- Martin Ingelsby, Chris Thomas, Chris Quinn, Tory Jackson and Ben Hansbrough -- who have been the floor generals and have led Notre Dame to great success.
Now, another player can be added to that list -- Eric Atkins. The two-year starter, who has been part of three consecutive 20-win campaigns, three straight NCAA appearances and 74 career wins (74-29; .718) was today named to the watch list for the 2014 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award.
Brey has been effusive in his praise of Atkins, who enters this season with 977 career points and 433 assists. Just last week in Charlotte, N.C., at Notre Dame's first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference Media Day, Brey expounded upon the Columbia, Md., native's talents and the overall impact he has had on the Notre Dame program the last couple of years in the starting lineup. Atkins is part of Irish backcourt that includes fellow teammate Jerian Grant, who earned a spot on the preseason all-ACC team. The combination of Atkins and Grant in 2013-14 will comprise one of the best backcourts in the country.
"I love coaching this guy, Brey says. "He is steady and rock solid. Eeric really understands our offense and me. Sometimes, he finishes my sentences; that's how close we are. I really value his opinion and feedback because he has the pulse of our team."
Atkins has started 73 of the 101 games he has played in during his career. He has averaged 9.7 points and 4.3 assists. Last year, he averaged 11.2 points and 5.5 assists while leading the team in minutes played (38.3 mpg).
The annual honor, announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and is named for Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic point guard Bob Cousy, recognizes the top point guards in men's basketball. A committee of well-respected media members and influential people within collegiate basketball from around the country comprise the committee.
This year's watch list will be narrowed down to a final 20 in early February, then a final five in early March. A premier Selection Committee has been appointed by the Hall of Fame to review the candidates in contention for the nation's top point guard award. This committee is made up of top college basketball personnel including members of the media, head coaches, media relations contacts and Hall of Famers. The Cousy Award winner will be presented the award on Championship Monday in Dallas at the Hall of Fame's Class of 2014 announcement and press conference.
Previous winners of the Bob Cousy Award have included Jameer Nelson (St. Joseph's), Raymond Felton (North Carolina), Dee Brown (Illinois), Acie Law (Texas A & M), DJ Augustin (Texas), Ty Lawson (North Carolina), Greivis Vasquez (Maryland), Kemba Walker (Connecticut), Kendall Marshall (North Carolina) and last year's recipient Trey Burke (Michigan).
Atkins is one of five players from the ACC on the Watch List. In addition to Atkins, this year's This year nominees include: Trevor Releford (Alabama), TJ McConnell (Arizona), Jahii Carson (Arizona State), Derrick Marks (Boise State), Walt Lemon, Jr. (Bradley), Justin Cobbs (California), Kyle Anderson (UCLA), Billy Baron (Canisius), Spencer Dinwiddie (Colorado), Quinn Cook (Duke), Brett Comer (Florida Gulf Coast), Kasey Hill (Florida), Devon Bookert (Florida State), Markel Starks (Georgetown), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Keifer Sykes (Green Bay), Siyani Chambers (Harvard), Brandyn Curry (Harvard), Yogi Ferrell (Indiana), Jake Odum (Indiana State), DeAndre Kane (Iowa State), Andrew Harrison (Kentucky), Elfrid Payton (Lafayette), Jason Brickman (LIU-Brooklyn), Anthony Ireland (Loyola Marymount), Chris Jones (Louisville), Chaz Williams (Massachusetts), Michael Dixon (Memphis), Joe Jackson (Memphis), Keith Appling (Michigan State), Jordan Clarkson (Missouri), Kendall Williams (New Mexico), Marcus Paige (North Carolina), Aaron Craft (Ohio State), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Dominic Artis (Oregon), Tim Frazier (Penn State), Kris Dunn (Providence), Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), Preston Medlin (Utah State), Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova), Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington), Semaj Christon (Xavier) and Kendrick Perry (Youngstown).
For more information on the 2014 Bob Cousy, log onto www.CousyAward.com.