Austin Rivers, a 6-foot-4 guard out of Winter Park (Fla.), is rated the No. 1 overall basketball prospect in the nation by several recruiting services. He has already signed a letter of intent with Duke, and he’ll be playing in Florida’s high school final four Friday—attempting to pick up his third career state championship ring by the end of this weekend. This week, he talked to Sporting News’ Brian McLaughlin about what it’s like to be Boston Celtics’ head coach Doc Rivers’ son, what he’s looking forward to at Duke and several other issues on his mind.
Q: I bet you wouldn’t mind playing with Kyrie Irving next year, would you? What do you know about his future plans at Duke?
A: He has a lot on his mind. I think he’s probably 50/50 right now about leaving, but if he does go, he’ll go high (in the draft). I sure would love to play with him. If Kyrie does leave, I’ll probably play a little bit at both (guard positions) when I get there. Quinn (Cook) will mostly play the point, and sometimes I might be kind of an aggressive point (guard).
Q: How do you compare to your brother, Jeremiah, who is a starter at Indiana this year?
A: He always told me that I was a better player than he was, but he’s the best defender I’ve ever played against, and he’s been doing that at Indiana. I think that’s why I got so good on offense—because I spent my whole life going against him at home.
Q: You’re rated one of the best players in the nation—but you routinely rub elbows with the best players in the world. Which players are you most in awe of?
A: Well, I’ve met Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen—you name it. A lot of people ask me who I’ve met through my dad, and they’re in awe when they hear the names of the players, but I’ve never looked at it like that. It’s cool meeting all of them, but I really want to be in their situation one day. I don’t want to just meet LeBron, I want to destroy him on the court one day.
Q: Most of us haven’t met Michael Jordan. Your impression?
A: Michael Jordan has a strong personality. He still thinks he’s the best player that ever played. He wouldn’t ever tell you that, but you can just tell that’s what he thinks, even now. That’s how I want to be, I want to have that kind of confidence. Jordan might go 1-for-20 one night and then go out the next night and score 50 points. Basketball has a lot of ups and downs, so you have to be confident to be successful.
Q: Being a big-name coach’s son and a big recruit, how much did you get heckled in high school?
A: I was probably hated before I ever even stepped on the court. People probably thought I was a spoiled kid. That always motivated me. People yell things at you from the stands. I think when I was a freshman, it probably got to me a little bit sometimes, but now I use it as motivation. The funny thing is, a lot of those same guys who yell things at you from the stands come down after the game and shake your hand and want to get their picture taken with you. They’re just fans. They love the game and they’re just doing their job.
Q: Are you ready for that kind of heckling in college?
A: I don’t think I’ll be able to hear specific fans in college as much as I did in high school. It’ll be louder, but I probably won’t be able to pick out exactly what people are saying or where they’re sitting and all of that, so it might even be easier to zone it out.
Q: Are college fans already going at you on the social networking sites? That seems to be a theme these days.
A: You have so many lovers and so many haters on Twitter. Some of the stuff, you can’t say. My brother warned me about all of this. He always told me that I was going to catch it. In ninth grade it was bad, then my sophomore year it got worse. Now, it’s really bad.
Q: Let’s face it—a year from now you’re going to be neck-deep in ACC basketball craziness. What’s that like to think about?
A: Probably the biggest reason I chose Duke was because of the big stage they play on. It seems like every game is on ESPN. It doesn’t matter who they’re playing, it’s going to be on. If somebody beats Duke, they storm the court. I want to play for a team in that kind of situation.
Q: Is there added pressure on you to succeed because you chose Duke?
A: I don’t get nervous about playing there. I mean, I get nervous because I’m excited but I’m not nervous about playing in front of everybody. I just can’t wait to play in something bigger, a program with fans worldwide. They have fans everywhere. That just shows you how big it is. You’re not just representing Duke, you’re representing their fans everywhere.”
Edited by LALakersFan4Life, March 03, 2011 - 07:48 PM.