Former NBA guard Chucky Atkins’ return energizes Evans basketball

Former NBA guard Chucky Atkins has been named the new coach of the Evans High School Trojans basketball team.

Atkins came home to defy the odds and start an 11-year NBA career by making the Orlando Magic roster in 1999-2000, is ready to make another basketball homecoming.

Atkins was brought in to coach a storied program that failed to reach region play the past four seasons.

Atkins, who finished an 11-year NBA career in 2011, said he is transitioning from player to coach and can’t snap his fingers to transform the Trojans back into a powerhouse. Evans won 20 games or more for 13 consecutive seasons through 1991-92, Atkins’ senior season.

His presence changed the lineup overnight. After Atkins took the job, Evans gained five prominent transfers.

“We haven’t accomplished anything, regardless of what people are predicting,” Atkins said. “We have talent and we have size, but right now I only have one senior [as a starter]. It’s going to take time.”

Atkins has heard the talk that he must have gone shopping for talent.

“Everybody wants to throw me under the bus and and talk about recruiting,” Atkins said. “These kids are zoned to go to Evans. They went other places, which nobody talked about. Now they’re back.”

As a player, Atkins was almost always the crafty underdog as a 5-foot-11 guard who made the NBA as an undrafted free agent out of USF and lasted 11 seasons, making 325 pro starts.

Now he wants to make the most of his talent as a mentor.

“The more simplified I can make it, the easier it is for them to play as hard as they can,” Atkins said.

Said Clayton, a 6-foot-6 forward: “It seems like what he tells you slows the game down. It’s little tricks about how to get around the zones and the presses, the easier way to get to the basket.”

Atkins arrival, on the heels of a football resurgence, has the Pine Hills community pumped. Inadvertently, he may be providing inspiration in a gym about 19 miles away.

“Whenever we work, we think about Evans,” Milon said. “That’s who we’re going to have to beat to get back to states.”

Chucky Atkins played in 696 NBA games (326 started), averaging 9.9 ppg, 3.4 apg, in 24.9 minutes per game. He had his best season in 2004-2005, as a starter for the Los Angeles Lakers, where he averaged career best 13.2 ppg.


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