Utah Jazz sign former Notre Dame point guard Eric Atkins

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

Hanging around campus and the Notre Dame men's basketball program the past few weeks while he sorted out his professional future, former guard Eric Atkins figured he would take that next step sometime this week with the NBA Development League draft.

Opportunity then knocked Sunday.

And Atkins answered.

Atkins, who left his professional team in Hungary after a two-month stay following a difference of opinion with the head coach, has signed a free agent contract with the NBA's Utah Jazz.

Atkins was averaging 14 points and five assists for Falco KC, an A Division (highest level) team in Hungary.

"The coach said that wasn't enough," Atkins told the Tribune last week. "He expected me to average 30 (points) a game."

Atkins played professionally last season in Greece. He appeared in all 26 games and averaged 7.0 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 23.0 minutes for KOAD in the A-1 (highest) division.

The signings of Atkins and fellow point guard Phil Pressey, who has NBA experience, leaves the team with 17 players on Utah's current roster. That number must be shaved to 15 by Tuesday, the start of the NBA season.

Atkins is expected to eventually join Utah's D-League affiliate, the Idaho Stampede.

Utah opens the 2015-16 season Wednesday at Detroit. Last year's starting point guard, Dante Exum, is out for the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Atkins' former college teammate, Jack Cooley, appeared in 16 games last season with the Jazz. It was enough to earn him a partially-guaranteed contract. Cooley was released by the Jazz earlier this month in training camp. He also signed with and was released by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Atkins' former college teammates Pat Connaughton (Portland) and Jerian Grant (New York) are set to start their NBA rookie seasons this week.

tnoie@ndinsider.com

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