Austin Rivers is quickly becoming one of the most hyped basketball players in recent memory. The John Wall-like press and buckets of love coming his way are nothing short of remarkable.
In 2003 Carmelo Anthony proved to the world that a single recruit can elevate a team to championship fame. Since that time, institutes have been throwing the farm at recruits hoping for the same success.
Last Halloween, John Wall dressed up like the Calipari Kid. This year, he will be a Wizard. However, at Kentucky, he was unable to put his wizardry to work and create the magic of a championship. Austin Rivers is like John Wall in many ways, but in just as many ways the two are a world a part.
Throughout Rivers' recruitment process, he has been promised the world. Currently, the Austin sweepstakes have UNC, Kansas, Florida, and Duke remaining.
Many feel that Duke is the front-runner by a mile. He has been observed wearing Duke gear more than once. If this is indeed the facility of higher education (okay facility of higher basketball) that he chooses, it could be a match made in heaven.
Reason No. 1: Attrition
The addition of Rivers to the Duke roster would be huge. He would be the best player recruited to wear this color blue in a long time. Duke has a very talented and deep team this season; some think that reason alone is one to make Rivers shy away.
That very reason will do the opposite.
At the completion of this season, Duke will lose Nolan Smith. He is a senior and the NCAA would frown on him sticking around.
Another loss could be the early departure of point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving is expected to not only start, but push for ACC Freshman of the year honors. Irving is more than likely a one-and-done.
If this does happen, then Duke will have a void in which Rivers would be perfect to fill.
Now let's get back to the depth part. If Rivers not only knows that he will start for a top contender with top talent and depth, why would he go elsewhere?
Reason No. 2: FIBA
I can almost see you smirking through the computer right now. How could the International Basketball Federation help a single American player choose where to go to college? Competition and camaraderie, that's how!
On the summer's U-18 team, Rivers was joined by two familiar faces: Jeff Capel (coach) and Kyrie Irving (fellow guard).
Throughout the U-18 tenure, the two (Rivers and Irving) were seen together often. So much so, that when Rivers openly wore Duke clothing after a win, media promptly asked Irving if he was doing his own recruiting.
Although it may be merely an assumption, you can't help but believe that Capel (Oklahoma head coach), Irving, and Rivers have had several Duke conversations. After all, it was Capel who hit one of the most exciting shots in Duke history (40-foot runner against UNC forcing double OT).
Capel was a starting guard for Duke all four years he attended, and Irving more than likely will be a starter for as long as he attends Duke.
Irving may be a one-and-done. If that is the case, Rivers may be looking for the torch. If said torch is passed from Irving to Rivers, then Duke is going to be happy for years to come.
Reason No. 3 - The K Factor
Duke's Coach K is not just a basketball coach. He is a life coach, mentor, and one of the greatest basketball minds in the history of the sport.
No one expects Rivers to plant roots at a school and stick around. Although Duke is typically a team-oriented system type of organization, their coach provides Rivers with something none of the others can; NBA-caliber coaching.
Presently, K is running through the World Championship tourney with ease. Oh yeah, he is doing it with what is being known as the "B" Team. In other words, he is dominating the world's best with America's second best.
They have bought into K's system and its effectiveness is being displayed each time they play.
K can be credited with bringing USA back to gold medal standards, and that relationship built with the NBA players is special. A player like Rivers eyeing the league can only benefit from such coaching.
Coach K provides unique experiences that Donovan, Williams, and Self can't. He has coached Kobe, LeBron, D-Wade, and Durant. In the eyes of a NBA-bound guard, this is money in the making. If K can turn Kobe into one of the best defenders in the world, imagine what he can do with Rivers.
At this point, Rivers more than likely has a sure front-runner, but he is not sharing that information. There are many great reasons to pick any of the top four teams left on his list. All are incredible schools and will have a real shot at a title.
The sure thing is that wherever he goes, they will greatly be rewarded. Austin Rivers is a future superstar. He is everything that Wall and Irving are, and that much more. Expect the recruiting race to be hot and heavy until he makes his pick, instantly lifting the hopes and dreams of the fans and faith full of that school.
Get ready for the circus, the Rivers story is just beginning.
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