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Playing For The Stars And Stripes

Jun 25, 2013, 1:08 PM EDT


Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant’s dream about playing for their country isn’t such a dream anymore as they have been invited to potentially participate in this summer’s World University Games. Right now, they are in Colorado Springs, Colo., at the United States Basketball Training Camp, trying to make the squad and have the opportunity to play with some of the best players on the international stage.

The 2013 World University Games (WUGs) are scheduled to be played July 6-17 in Kazan, Russia. Davidson College’s Bob McKillop will lead the USA, with assistant coaches John Beilein of the University of Michigan and the University of South Carolina’s Frank Martin. Additionally, Tad Boyle of the University of Colorado, Jim Kessler of Grace College (NAIA) and Matt Matheny from Elon University were tabbed as court coaches for training camp.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to put on the U.S.A. jersey,” Atkins proclaimed. “This is something as a child you always think about and hope that you will have the chance to do so someday and to have the opportunity to be coached by some of these guys will be great. I can’t wait to get started.”

With Atkins and Grant playing together in camp, it may give them a strategic advantage over others if paired on the same team.

“If I have the chance to pick side, of course I’m going to play with Eric (Atkins),” said Grant. “Eric (Atkins) and I know each other’s game and work really well together, it’s a no brainer.”

Tim Abromaitis was the last player to represent Notre Dame on a USA Basketball roster, playing in the 2011 World University Games held in China and helped the squad to a fifth-place finish. Grant and Atkins aren’t thinking about topping their teammate, but learning from other great coaches and playing to the best of their ability.

“I’m not really thinking about how Abro (Abromaitis) finished, we know that has nothing to do with us,” said Atkins. “All I can do is play my best at the time Coach McKillop has me in and support my teammates when I’m not.”

It is an exciting time for the Notre Dame men’s basketball program; only four schools had multiple players invited to the camp. Joining Notre Dame’s due of Grant and Atkins was Indiana University’s Kevin ‘Yogi’ Ferrell and Will Sheehey, Duke University’s Quinn Cook and Rodney Hood and Iowa’s Devyn Marble and Aaron White.

Finalists for the team are expected to be announced on June 27 or 28 and the 12-member roster will be released prior to the team’s departure for Russia on July 1.

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