The NCAA Tournament's Best Students: Texas's Connor Atchley

Texas's academic star shines bright on and off the court.

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Connor Atchley has seen a lot in his five-year basketball career at Texas. He played alongside the first-ever freshman to be named National Player of the Year, Kevin Durant, and he started every game for last year's squad, which made the NCAA tournament's Elite Eight for the second time in his first four seasons with the Longhorns. Since the 2004-2005 season, when Atchley redshirted as a freshman, Texas is 128-46.

Maybe the success Atchley has off the court has rubbed off on his teams on the court. The 6-foot-10 forward/center from Clear Lake, Texas, has made the Academic All-Big 12 team four consecutive years. He was also given the team's Jack Gray Award, which, according to the Longhorns' website, is given in recognition of "outstanding character, citizenship, academic achievement, and contributions reflective of the University of Texas basketball program."

After finishing his bachelor's degree in corporate communications last May, Atchley enrolled in the Texas Graduate School of Advertising. Atchley will have one more year of work left for his master's after he finishes his illustrious Longhorn basketball career this spring.

Being a Division I athlete at a major conference basketball program is tough. How do you balance schoolwork and hoops?

It's about time management. We do a good job of making sure we take our classes in the morning. We have study hall and practices, so it's really just making sure you stay on top of your schoolwork and not procrastinating. It's just really about being a good student and staying on top of your work. Where do you go when you need to buckle down and get some work done?

We have the academic center that's really nice and quiet. I think just being anywhere that you can be by yourself and not have any distractions always helps me if I need to sit down and crunch something out. Do you have a set group of things you have to have with you when you need to work, like an iPod or food and drink?

I'll just have a bottle of water, but, normally, I just like peace and quiet with nothing distracting. That always helps. What kind of resources do you use at Texas to stay on top of schoolwork?

The academic services staff that we have helps out tremendously. They give you the tools to make sure you're on top of things, whether it's calendars or laptops or other things that help you stay organized. You graduated in 2008 with a degree in corporate communication. What kinds of classes did you have to take and what did you learn as an undergrad?

In the future, I feel like I'll be part of the business world, no matter what I might go into. Corporate communications deals a lot with being able to run things more efficiently. In any facet of business, you're dealing with people all the time. Just the ability to run a company or any part of it more efficiently, it really helps a lot. I took a lot from it and really enjoyed the communications school. What made you choose advertising for your advanced degree, and what kind of career path do you plan on taking once basketball finishes for you?

With advertising, it's so based in the ability to reach out and connect with people. It's planning and account management, but it's also being able to think like the consumer and how you can reach them and be most effective with them. I think trying to figure ways to connect with people and sell something to them really helps out. What's the transition been like from undergraduate to graduate school while still playing basketball?

In graduate school, a lot of the classes are later in the day, so I had to pick and choose on that, but it hasn't been a real problem. You just have bigger, long-term projects. It's a lot more reading and things like that. Last question: What's your schedule like when the conference and NCAA tournaments come around and school keeps going? How does the increase in basketball workload affect your schoolwork, and how do you deal with that change?

It comes back to time management, just knowing your priorities and what you have to do. On these longer trips, we usually have an academics staff member with us, so that's always helpful, but there are usually things you can do in advance to be prepared and organized before you leave.