Another day closer to Countdown to Craziness which kicks off the Duke Basketball season. Today, I would like to talk about the Blue Devils sensational freshman, Austin Rivers. As many of you know, I am always on the road at AAU events in early spring and summer, so let me share some of what I saw of Rivers during that time.
The first thing you will notice about Rivers is his swagger. He's got game and he knows it and there's not a single time when he is not willing to take the big shot. He always had the ball in his hands and now he must learn to play off ball and that will be an adjustment for the talented freshman. Rivers lit up the circuit at about a 25 ppg clip and he loves to create his shot which you will see shortly.
Rivers will play the off guard spot at Duke, but let's not make too much of that for the Blue Devils system has no true or traditional positions and there will be times when he handles the rock on clear outs. You probably all know that Austin is the son of Glenn "Doc" Rivers, the Boston Celtics head coach and former Atlanta Hawks player. Duke has done well with kids that have NBA lineage in the past, such as Michael Dunleavy, Gerald Henderson and even assistant coach Chris Collins.
The only knock I have on Rivers is that his AAU team did not seem to teach good defensive skills, so that is an area he will have to improve upon quickly. With Coach K at the helm, it's hard to imagine he will not get the vaunted Duke man to man defense down pat. Coach will also make Rivers a complete player and help him to be better prepared for when he goes to the NBA.
I remember being the first Duke site to interview Rivers during the Boo Williams Invitational when he was a mere 15 years old. At that time he had committed to Florida, but during the interview I realized that the verbal may not be as solid as some thought it to be. As it turns out, the Rivers family contacted Coach K and Duke a year and a half down the road he ended up casting his lot with the guys in royal blue.
Even when he was at the ripe age of 15, there was a buzz about him and that buzz would continue to grow as he developed reaching fever pitch in his senior season. You could always count on a full gym when he was playing and he will now lay in an eternally full joint, sold out place known as Cameron Indoor Stadium. Like other prospects along the way, it has been fun to watch Austin grow into the young man he is today. The only gripe I have is he told me I would get to check out his moms infamous home cooking one day. Yeah, right. Of course, he was kidding, but I was all hook line and sinker, nabbing that bait, LOL. Austin is very close to his family and is always seen with his mom and little brother wherever he is playing.
There will be a few growing pains and lessons in store for Rivers, but there will also be nights when his play will have dust falling from the rafters due to the rocking Cameron Crazies getting a dose of AR. And you know what? I can deal with missing momma's home cooking for there will be plenty of that in Cameron this season. Austin Rivers. Another reason to get excited about Countdown to Craziness.