USF Hall of Fame Class of 2012: Chucky Atkins
The voice of USF Athletics routinely puts down his radio headset and picks up the pen to share his perspective on the history of USF Athletics.
Louk has been broadcasting games for 29 years and is the resident historian in the Athletics Department hallways.
Voice of the USF Bulls
Sometimes you really can't tell the players without a scorecard.
When the 1992-93 USF basketball season opened, the Bulls were no longer a team filled with familiar faces. Seven seniors had graduated, including four starters, and the core of the team that had been to postseason three years in a row was gone.
In their place was a talented team, but an extremely young and inexperienced one. The starting lineup featured three freshmen, a transfer sophomore, and the one returning starter, guard Derrick Sharp.
Among the newcomers was a small guard from Orlando Evans High School.
For Chucky Atkins, being at USF was no surprise. It shouldn't have been for the Bulls coaches either. After all, Atkins had been telling them for years he would be a Bull.
The coaches were first informed at a USF basketball camp.
"He must have been in 9th grade or so," remembers former USF head coach Bobby Paschal. "He said, 'Coach, I'm coming to South Florida.'"
"I said, 'That's nice,'" Paschal recalls.
"He said, 'No, I'm coming to South Florida to play basketball.'"
And so he did.
Although they may not have envisioned him as a Bull quite that quickly, he did catch the eye of the coaching staff.
"He was quick to understand the game, and he understood how to play the point guard position," recalls Paschal.
Paschal had coached Atkins' friend, Dion Rainey, at Southwestern Louisiana, and it was Rainey who finally convinced Paschal to take Atkins at USF.
"He said, 'Forget about his size, you take him,'" remembers Paschal. "So, I said, 'If you feel that strongly about him, I will."
Atkins played right away, starting all 27 games in his freshman year. It wasn't easy; the new look Bulls struggled to an 8-19 record.
"I watched the USF teams before me, and my goal was to get us back to that level," says Atkins.
With Atkins as the cornerstone, the Bulls were rebuilding, and although they would not match the run of the NCAA teams of the early 90's, they did find a good deal of success during Atkins' tenure.
By the time Atkins was a junior, the Bulls were in the postseason again, beating St. John's and Coppin State before falling to Marquette in the Elite Eight of the 1995 NIT.
Atkins' statistical line at USF is fascinating. Every year his scoring average went up, from a beginning point of 10.2 points per game as a freshman to an ending point of 19.3 points per game as a senior. Every year his number of free throws increased. He hit 244 3-point shots in his career, and his 1,619 points and 519 career assists leave him near the top of the USF charts.
"What comes to mind when I think of Chucky is discipline," says former teammate Brian Lamb. "Some people may be surprised at his stats, but we saw it every day in practice."
"He loved basketball," says Paschal. "He was a team oriented player. He was very good at pushing the ball down the floor, and as time went by he became a much better scorer."
Atkins would split his USF career between the Metro Conference and Conference USA. Eventually his USF experience would lead him to be the most successful NBA player in Bulls history, but even that road wasn't easy. It was more than three years after his departure from USF that he made his NBA debut, only after stops in the CBA and in Croatia. Once he got to the big time he stayed for 11 seasons and 696 games.
In April 2012, Atkins returned to the high school of his playing days, Orlando Evans, to become the new head basketball coach.
"I'll tell you one thing," says Lamb. "Those guys will be in shape. He'll be a great coach."
Longtime Bulls fans may remember Atkins for his heroics on the court, but one of his most dramatic moments came as he walked off the Sun Dome floor for the final time.
On Senior Day, March 2, 1996, the Bulls defeated UAB, 73-64. As is custom, Paschal took his seniors out late in the game for a final ovation.
As Atkins left, he walked to the center of the court, went down on one knee, and kissed the USF logo, a final gesture few at the game that day would ever forget.
"I wanted to show some appreciation and to let USF fans know that I loved them," says Atkins.
Says Paschal, "It showed the dedication he had to the game and to the program. Chucky was a player that wanted to play at USF. He played through some tough times early and brought us to a point where we had an excellent team."
That discipline, determination, talent, and love of USF has led Atkins to this special honor. On Sept. 28, he will be inducted, along with Jessica Dickson and the late Lee Roy Selmon as the newest members of the USF Athletics Hall of Fame.
The voice of the Bulls, Jim Louk, offers his perspective of USF Athletics, both past and present.
For 29 years, Jim Louk has been the voice of USF Athletics.
Louk came to USF in 1983 as the radio play-by-play announcer for the USF men's basketball team and served as the lead voice until the conclusion of the 1996-97 season. He then made the transition to football in USF's inaugural 1997 campaign, and still serves as the team's play-by-play announcer today. Louk will come into the 2012 football season having broadcast every Bulls football game in history - a span of 177 games.
He has handled USF TV play by play broadcasts on SportsChannel, Fox Sports Florida, and Brighthouse Sports Network. His career includes over 1,500 play by play broadcasts of USF events, including football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball, men's and women's soccer and volleyball.
This series of articles for GoUSFBulls.com began in 2010.
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Louk is a 1979 graduate of the University of Bridgeport where he earned a bachelor's degree in journalism. Louk and his wife Barbara reside in Lutz. Their son Ross is a sophomore in college.