At the start of the season, Travis Atson wasn’t widely considered to be one the city’s best players, but his stellar junior year has changed all that.
The Greenpoint-native was named the most valuable player of Christ the King’s Catholic High School Athletic Association Class AA title run, and he helped the Royals win the school’s second-straight state Federation crown last weekend in Albany.
The 6-foot-5 Atson had 10 points and nine rebounds in a semifinal win over Benjamin Cardozo and eight points versus Long Island Lutheran in the title game.
His life and how he’s viewed in the basketball community changed dramatically when he tallied 21 points and 10 rebounds against Bishop Loughlin in the city final earlier this month to propel CK to its fourth crown in five years.
Royals coach Joe Abitello said the number of colleges calling has increased and Atson, who already had a scholarship offer from Quinnipiac, recently picked up another from St. Bonaventure. Atson has also seen a surge in interest from social media — and fro the old-fashioned kind as well.
“My Twitter has been going crazy,” Atson said. “I think I’ve been in four or five newspapers already. Every day I have another interview.”
None of what he has accomplished surprises Arbitello. Atson missed his freshmen season with a torn ACL and played limited minutes last year on the varsity as CK won the city and state Federation titles. He waited his turn to shine, but Arbitello got to see Atson’s potential every day at practice last year, even when others couldn’t see it in games.
“If he decided to transfer out of Christ the King last year I wouldn’t have been mad at him,” Abitello said. “He’s a really, really good player, and he probably would have started on 90 percent of the teams last year.”
The talk around the Royals in the preseason focused on highly recruited center Adonis Delarosa, super sophomore Rawle Alkins, and senior guard Andre Walker. Despite what Arbitello knew, Atson was still in the process for proving himself, despite most-valuable-player honors over the summer at Hoops in the Sun and Gauchos Roundball Classic.
He went on to average 16.8 points per game during the regular season and was also the most valuable player of the prestigious Stop-DWI tournament in Binghamton. Talent evaluator Tom Konchalski believes Atson is the Royals’ most consistent player, and the city’s best offensive rebounder, noting his knack for making plays. Konchalski feels Atson will need to improve his ability to defend guards if he wants to play at a higher level in college, but he has plenty of skills schools should notice.
“He has a nose for the ball and has terrific hands,” Konchalski said.
Atson also caught the eye of Cardozo coach Ron Naclerio through the year and during his preparation for the state semifinal game. He believes Atson is one of the top-five juniors in the city.
“He’s climbed the ladder so much faster than anybody thought,” Naclario said. “Watching him, he is a good Division I player.”