Nike Hoop Summit Player Profile: Austin Rivers
As the son of former NBA star and current Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, Austin Rivers has an impressive legacy to live up to. Reading over his list of accomplishments, however, the 6-3 guard apparently is having no trouble doing just that. In fact, Rivers today was named the 2011 Naismith High School Player of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
Just last week, Rivers scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Winter Park High School to a second consecutive Florida Class 6A title, wrapping up his prep career with a 28-5 record and averages of 29.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game in 2010-11.
This past summer, he not only helped USA Basketball to a 5-0 record and gold medal in the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in San Antonio, Texas, he set records along the way. Rivers now holds the USA U18 competition record for 3-point field goal percentage (.600, 21-35 3pt FGs) and single-game records for points scored (35), 3-pointers made (9) and 3-pointers attempted (12). Additionally, he lists No. 2 in competition records for points averaged (20.2) and fifth for points scored (101).
The Duke-bound prospect will again don a red, white and blue jersey for the USA in the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit on April 9 at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore.
Rivers will play alongside eight of his USA Nike Hoop Summit teammates in the 2011 McDonaldís All-American game and also in the 2011 Jordan Brand Classic.
USABasketball.com caught up with Rivers just before he captured his 2011 state title to talk with him about international basketball and the next level for him as a Blue Devil.
While seven of your 2011 U.S. teammates played on the 2010 USA Basketball Menís U17 World Championship Team, you played on the 2010 USA U18 National Team. Do you know many of your USA teammates?
Iíve known a lot of them just from playing them the past couple of years in AAU. I know Quinn (Cook), heís also going to Duke. Iíve known Mike (Gilchrist) and Brad (Beal) from AAU. Iím pretty close with all of them as far as basketball goes. At the end of the day, we get to know each other, especially when we go to camps and room together. I wouldnít say that gives us an advantage, but it should help our team get together quickly.
What do you expect to face from the World Team in the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit?
They are going to be a really good team. Iíve watched previous years and the previous games, and theyíve always been pretty good. Right now I think we just need to go in there and play unselfishly, and if everybody plays the way we can play, we should win.
Having watched the Nike Hoop Summit in past years, is there a performance that sticks out to you?
I remember a few years ago John Wall and Avery Bradley. They lost, but they had really impressive performances. John Wall played awesome. He had some cool dunks and played hard to the end. That was a pretty cool performance by those two.
What was the biggest challenge you encountered while playing international basketball?
Just picking up their style of play. Itís a little bit different. But at the end of the day a ball is a ball and a hoop is a hoop, so there werenít that many challenges. (International players) are very smart and patient. They are not quite as athletic as in the USA. Most American players are really athletic. Over there, they use their mind a lot more, I guess. They are really smart with the basketball, and they take their time getting to the basket. So, we just have to be patient, play as smart as we can and play our game Ė make them go up-and-down as fast as possible.
What do you think of international rules? Is there an international rule youíd like to see the high school game adopt?
I like all of the international rules. They are all pretty similar to the NBA. I like the one rule where you can hit the ball off of the rim. I think thatís pretty cool. Although, if that was allowed in the NBA, itíd be very hard because those guys are so athletic, they could throw a lot off of the rim. So, I wouldnít want any of those rules, really. They are all pretty similar beside the goaltending rule.
What made Duke a good fit for you?
Itís just the right school for me. I fit in that program great, and I really trust the coaches and have a really good relationship with them. I just feel like I could get the best out of that school, and they can get the best out of me at the same time. I think going there can help me become a better player and a better person. I expect that Iíll have the chance to get better and to win there.
What is your favorite training routine or drill?
I do a lot of dribbling drills because I feel like when my handle is good, my game is on. So, I do a lot of dribbling drills and shooting drills to stay in shape and stay ready to go. Before games I like to stay rested, take a nap and come to the game very focused. That usually helps me.
What is your least favorite training routine or drill?
Weightlifting is by far the worst, but itís not too bad. Itís the worst because you donít have a ball in your hands. It makes things more interesting when you have a basketball in your hand. You get used to it after a while. Itís part of what you have to do to get better, so I just deal with it.
Where is the most room for improvement in your game?
I would say to become a more consistent leader and to become a more consistent defender. I can defend really well when I want to, and I want to be known as one of the best defenders as well. People know me as one of the best scorers, or the best scorer, and Iíd like to be known as the best defender as well.†
Is there a player you most like to be compared to?
Not really. A lot of people compare me to players like Dwyane Wade Ė he likes to slash kind of like I do. Iím pretty athletic and can score as well, so we have some similarities, but Iím different at the same time.
What helps you stay motivated?
At the end of the day, in my mind I havenít achieved anything. I always tell everybody that all the time. I donít pay bills, and I donít get paid to play basketball and Iím not in the NBA, so I have a lot to be motivated for. I have a lot to achieve and a lot to learn. Thatís how I look at things.
Where are you at in your high school season?
We are in the final four in the state tournament. Itís kind of a bitter-sweet ending. Itís really cool that we are down here in the final four and that we have a chance to repeat as state champions. It kind of sucks because my senior season is coming to an end very quickly. It feels like a week ago we just started the season, and now we are already ending. Itís crazy how fast life goes. Next thing I know, Iíll be playing in a uniform that says Duke on it.