Florida State assistant coach Danielle Atkinson finished her second season at FSU in 2015-16, helping the Seminoles to a 25-8 overall record and a second consecutive NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. Her individual work with guard Leticia Romero helped the Spaniard to a second straight All-America season, while her excellent recruiting work has given FSU the No. 4 signing class in the nation according to ESPNW.
Headed by Atkinson’s ability to connect with the younger generation, five talented freshmen comprise FSU’s 2016 recruiting class: Nicole Ekhomu (No. 19 overall; Guard; Bolingbrook, Ill.), A’Tyanna Gaulden (No. 21 overall; Guard; Ocilla, Ga.), Jasmine Walker (No. 23 overall; Forward; Montgomery, Ala.) as well as Nausia Woolfolk (No. 53 overall; Guard; Fort Valley, Ga.) and Iho Lopez (Forward; Spain).
Illinois transfer Chatrice White, a talented center, also joins the Seminoles and will have two years of eligibility remaining in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.
Another rising star in the coaching profession, Atkinson continues to help FSU stay among the nation’s best programs through her work on the practice courts, in the games and on the recruiting trail.
Atkinson wrapped up her first year at FSU by playing a huge part in the team’s record-breaking 2014-15 season. Her immense devotion toward game preparation and scouting, practice planning, in-game adjustments and recruiting connections has already benefitted the Seminole program immeasurably.
Possessed with a great coaching demeanor and hard-working attitude, Atkinson fit in with the FSU coaching staff and student-athletes right away. The Seminoles’ season-long success included several of Atkinson’s scout games, and her ability to prepare the team so well in various situations such as out-of-bounds plays aided the group tremendously.
She worked individually with several players, helping junior center Adut Bulgak and sophomore guard Leticia Romero enjoy All-America seasons while freshman standout Shakayla Thomas earned ACC Sixth Player of the Year and All-ACC Freshman Team honors. Atkinson’s tutelage helped Florida State to a school-record 32 wins, including 27 by double digit points.
Known as an experienced coach with a great deal of knowledge in a variety of coaching realms, Atkinson has risen through the coaching ranks since starting her career as an assistant coach at Hofstra from 2006 to 2010. She has enjoyed successful stops with the Pride, Illinois State (2010-2012) and most recently Kentucky (2012-14).
“Danielle is someone who has made a great impact in each of her stops at Hofstra, Illinois State and Kentucky,” Semrau said upon the hiring of Atkinson. “Danielle brings both the knowledge and passion to excel in this profession and is a perfect complement to our staff. We are very excited to have her."
While at Kentucky in her two seasons, Atkinson played a large role in helping the Wildcats to an NCAA Elite Eight run in the 2012-13 season and a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2013-14. Responsible for coaching guard play, Atkinson was heavily involved in the progression of backcourt mates Jennifer O'Neill (All-SEC guard) and Linnae Harper (All-SEC freshman guard) in the 2013-14 year.
In Atkinson's first season in Lexington, former Kentucky guard A'dia Mathies was named the 2013 SEC Co-Player of the Year as well as a Wooden Award finalist under her watch.
Even before her arrival at FSU she was a tremendous recruiter, making strong connections in the North, South and Midwest. A large part of her successful coaching career has been her ability to develop tremendous relationships with student-athletes and their families through her engaging approach. She helped the Wildcats land the 17th-ranked 2014 recruiting class according to ESPNW.
Atkinson also presents a strong in-game mindset, assisting heavily with scouting reports and helping with game adjustments and substitutions. She also served in other capacities with Kentucky, running summer basketball camps and skill sessions as well as helping her teams reach their goals in the classroom as the academic coordinator.
She developed many of her current skill sets while at Illinois State, helping the Redbirds to two postseason trips which included a 2011-12 team that was chosen sixth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll and finished second with a 13-5 league record.
Atkinson got her start with Hofstra and spent four seasons in Hempstead, N.Y., including her final two years as the recruiting coordinator in addition to her assistant coach duties.
At Hofstra, she was responsible for implementing the team's offensive strategies which helped the Pride record two 20-win seasons in her tenure, including a school-record 26 games in her first season. Atkinson's influential coaching style helped nine of her former players at Hofstra earn All-Colonial Athletic Association honors, while four went on to play professionally overseas.
Atkinson is a Marietta, Ga., native who earned several academic honors while being a four-year letterwinner for the University of Florida from 2002-06. She was a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection, an Arthur Ashe Jr. Scholar Athlete Second Team member and a District 3 CoSIDA Academic All-America Team member.
While in Gainesville, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise and Sport Sciences with a concentration in Sport Management. Atkinson also minored in education and business administration.
Atkinson emerged as a cerebral guard who left her career at Florida with some worthy achievements - She finished her career seventh all-time at UF with 80 3-pointers, ranked 11th with 162 steals, 11th with 265 assists and fifth with a 78.2 free throw percentage.
On May 24, 2015, the former Danielle Santos married Cleveland Atkinson.