Wednesday night, the McDonald’s All-American game hits Chicago, and with it a showcase of the greatest high school talent in the country. Which means you’ll also see the best freshmen in next year’s college basketball season on display; as well as a few lottery picks in the 2012 NBA Draft.
And there’s no bigger name than Austin Rivers, a Duke Blue Devils commit that who has taken home the Morgan Wooten Player of the Year Award and the Parade Magazine POY. Rivers talked about why he choose Duke.
“I just looked at a school that fit in with my style of play, and I developed a great relationship with Coach K.,” Rivers said. ”
And I could see myself getting better as a person and a player.”
By Paul M. Banks
Rivers, as you probably heard, as tremendous basketball bloodlines. His father is Chicago local legend Doc Rivers, former NBA guard and current Coach of the Boston Celtics. His older brother Jeremiah played for the Indiana Hoosiers and Georgetown Hoyas.
So does Austin have something to prove/a chip on his shoulder given the family standard he has to live up to?
“Not anymore, but when I was little I always felt like I had to prove something. But now I just go out there and play my game and have fun, I don’t have anything to prove to anybody. I love the game and respect the game and everything just falls into place,” Rivers said.
Rivers learned a lot from seeing his older brother play at two of the premier college basketball programs in the nation.
“I think I benefited from watching him, I’ve seen what he’s overcome with injuries. He always helped me with my work ethic. I thought I worked hard in high school. Until I saw him,” Rivers said.
Rivers is probably the most prolific offensive player in this class. He’s a 6-4, 189 lb combo guard who should fill in nicely for Kyrie Irving, who will no doubt leave early for the NBA. Rivers is advanced beyond his years in both talking with the media and his fundamental skill level. He also has a competitive drive that sets him apart from his peers and a killer instinct in crunch time.
So then the question becomes who would juxtapose Rivers with? “Austin Rivers is the next ____”
“I like to watch a lot of players, I love the way Derrick Rose and Dwanye Wade plays but I kind of have my own style of game, a little bit of both. It’s important to score and but also to get everyone involved. And Derrick Rose does that. He’s averaging 24 points per game, but also 8 assists per game,” said Rivers who will probably play both a major scoring and distributing role in Durham next year.
But Rivers isn’t perfect. Here’s what is listed as “Weaknesses” under his ESPN profile:
“definite area of needed improvement that sticks out about Rivers is that not only does he love going to his right the majority of times he has the ball, but if forced to his left he does not attack with the same aggressiveness. When played to his left he is reduced to relying on a one-or-two dribble step-back jumper for the majority of his offense. Needs to play in a stance on defense more often especially away from the ball and not hop around looking for a steal.”
He does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbankFollow paulmbanks