Heath: Atkins 'such a great fit' as student coach
ORLANDO -- USF men's basketball coach Stan Heath is exciting about the possibility of former Bulls and NBA guard Chucky Atkins returning to school to join his staff as a student coach.
Atkins, who played 11 years in the NBA before retiring in 2011, had told the Times he was "extremely interested" in joining Heath's staff, but the 38-year-old left USF to play pro basketball without completing his degree, something he would need for a full-time assistant's job. What Atkins can do is return to school and help the Bulls as a student coach, which Heath thinks works well on both sides.
"We've had some great talks about him being a part of our staff. It's something I certainly hope works out," Heath said Monday night before a USF booster event in Orlando. "It's not a done deal, but we've had good discussions. The rule is, as a student coach, you can almost act as a coach in every capacity except recruiting. He'd have the ability to be on the floor with the players, working them out. I know Chucky has a passion for that. He's very good at it. His experience is at the highest level, which is why it's such a great fit for both of us. He can accomplish what he needs to and really help our basketball team. ... If a guy like Chucky has the ablility to be on the floor, it's a no-brainer."
Heath said Atkins will "hopefully enroll" for the start of Summer B classes on July 1 -- he'd like to have his coaching staff complete by that date, including new assistant Mike Wells, who coached Atkins for one season with the Houston Rockets. Heath still has an opening for one full-time assistant and a director of basketball operations.
Atkins hasn't responded to messages from the Times since he told an Orlando radio station he was leaving his job as head coach at his alma mater, Evans High School, to join Heath's staff. His twitter bio references "a new chapter," but as of Monday morning, he had not given his notice to Evans athletic director Wanda Perdue.
NO DAVIS: Point guard Drew Davis, a high school teammate and close friend of fellow USF signee John Egbunu, won't be with the team this season and will attend a prep school with the intention of joining the Bulls in 2014-15, Heath said. He expects the rest of his class to join the program and be admitted this summer: "I'm not in charge, but I feel like everything should be good."
REDSHIRT?: Heath's son, Josh, graduated from Tampa Prep over the weekend, and the point guard will be with the team on scholarship as a freshman next season. Heath said his son has a bright future -- if junior college transfer Corey Allen can establish himself as a solid backup to Anthony Collins at the point, he's talked with Josh about redshirting this season, which would give him three years of eligibility after Collins has graduated. "The best thing I love about him is all he wants to do is work hard and get himself in position," Heath said. "He's working very hard."
NOTES: Heath likes the flexibility of his 2013-14 lineup, with Collins and forward Victor Rudd the only real "locks" for starting jobs. He isn't sure whether Rudd is more likely to work at small forward or power forward, but was pleased by how well rising sophomore Zach LeDay finished last season as a power forward. "I really like him as a four-man and the intensity he plays with," Heath said. He has "tremendous options" at shooting guard and small forward, with Martino Brock (who will now focus as a two-guard and not a backup point), Musa Abdul-Aleem (now healthy after missing most of his first season with back issues) and JaVontae Hawkins, in addition to newcomers Bo Zeigler and Dre Clayton. "Brock started toward the end of the year, but we need that shooter in Aleem. Hawkins showed tremendous flashes. You never know how that kid will jump from his freshman to sophomore year," he said. He expects big things from Egbunu and Chris Perry in the post -- "they've got to be out there on the court," he said. "We've got 7-8 guys that could be starters."