It didn’t take long for Austin Rivers to become the top prep basketball player in the country—it just took hard work.

The 6-foot, 3-inch guard has been working on his game since he was a toddler, shooting three-pointers since third grade and locking down on defense since little league. Under the guidance of his father, former NBA pro and current Celtics coach Doc Rivers; the younger Rivers has become the next big thing on the basketball landscape.

Outfitted with quickness, a killer crossover and his trademark pull-up jumper, Rivers will be taking his talents to Tobacco Road next season as a member of the Duke University Blue Devils. Throughout his stellar prep career, the lean combo guard has left several defenders grasping for air, but even the elusive Rivers couldn’t shake the AFRO sports desk as he sat down for a one-on-one.

AFRO: You’re the top prospect in the country, committed to Duke and the son of a former NBA player, how have you handled all the pressure so far?

Rivers: I just don’t let the pressure get to me, I just play my game. I’ve never really thought about the pressure or worried about anybody else’s expectations because I’ve always felt like my expectations are higher than ; the only pressure is from myself. I’ve always loved the game and played it hard and everything else has just come into place.

AFRO: You’re going to Duke next season. You’ll be playing under Coach Mike Krzyzewski and being cheered on by the Cameron Crazies. What are you looking forward to next season?

Rivers: Just playing college basketball man, there’s nothing like it. It’s a great experience; I’m getting to play with some great players and arguably the best coach out there. It’s a prime time stage man and it’s just going to be fun to play on that level playing at a style of play that I like. It’s just going to be real fun.

AFRO: You’re a 6-foot, 3-inch guard who can run the point guard spot, but you have the size and the scoring ability to play off the ball. What do you consider yourself?

Rivers: I’m definitely a combo guard: point guard, shooting guard, either one. If Coach K says I need 10 assists from you but just 10 points, then I’m going to go out there and get 10 assists and 10 points. If he says I need you to get 30 then I’m going to try to get 30. I’m a combo guard.

AFRO: You grew up under an NBA father and now you’re going to a school that puts a lot of players into the league, have you given any thought to the NBA and what may await you there?

Rivers: No, not yet. People always talk about me going into the NBA and all that jazz but right now all I’m concentrated on is going to Duke. That’s all that’s on my mind; I just want to go in there with an open mind. I have a lot to learn and a lot to improve upon as a player and a person. I just got to get better, man.

AFRO: Your team’s season is over but you still have a couple of high school all-star games left. What’s the mindset as you head into the last portion of your prep career?

Rivers: To win, definitely. We lost the McDonald’s Game and I lost my last high school game, so that’s two games in a row. Even though the McDonald’s Game was an all-star game, a loss is a loss in my opinion, I don’t care if it’s an all-star game or not. So, first things first: go to this Jordan Brand Game , play my hardest to get the “W” and then I look forward to going to that hoops summit out in Oregon , because that’s a big deal, and represent my country and do my thing out there.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO