Duke's Austin Rivers and 5 Players to Watch at the Maui Invitational

Ethan BackCorrespondent ISeptember 19, 2011

Duke's Austin Rivers and 5 Players to Watch at the Maui Invitational

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    The college basketball season is approaching quickly, and the most exciting early event of the season is the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

    Participating in this year's tournament will be Duke's Austin Rivers, among other very talented players. With teams like Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis and UCLA, the tournament is sure to live up to its expectations.

    There are many players capable of having breakout games at the Maui Invitational, but here are the five most likely to erupt onto the scene.

Tim Hardaway Jr.

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    With no Darius Morris this season, the Michigan Wolverines will be counting on Tim Hardaway Jr. to be their new leader.

    Hardaway is just a sophomore, but he had an incredible freshman season and could even be an All-American this year.

    Michigan plays Memphis is its opening game on the island, and while the Wolverines may be the underdogs, Hardaway will make sure that his team doesn't go down without a fight.

Jason Clark

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    The Georgetown Hoyas relied on the play of three outstanding guards last season: Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Jason Clark. Clark is the only one returning this year, and he will see a huge increase in his scoring numbers.

    Georgetown will play Kansas in the opening round on the island, which will be a great matchup. The Hoyas have a chance to win if Clark steps up as a leader.

    The Hoyas do have a strong incoming group of freshmen, headlined by Otto Porter. However, at this early point in the season, it will be on Clark to carry the scoring load.

Thomas Robinson

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    Hopefully, Thomas Robinson will make Kansas fans forget about the departure of the Morris twins very quickly. He certainly has the potential to be a star player.

    Robinson will definitely draw more double teams than he did last year; nevertheless, he should be an effective scorer.

    In the first round of the Maui Invitational, the Jayhawks will be squaring off against the Georgetown Hoyas, who have seven underclassmen and just two upperclassmen in their frontcourt. This could mean a huge game for Robinson. He and Kansas could make a lot of noise on the college basketball scene early on.

Reeves Nelson

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    Reeves Nelson is on this list for two reasons: He has the chance to be a great player this season and his UCLA Bruins are playing the host Chaminade Silverswords in the opening game of the tournament.

    The Silverswords will have no answer for Nelson in the post. He should have an outstanding first game. He has a legitimate shot of being the tournament's MVP, which would surely give him a confidence boost.

    A cautionary tale for Nelson, however, would be this video.

Austin Rivers

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    The Maui Invitational is always headlined by elite teams and players. Whether or not Austin Rivers will be an elite player remains to be seen, but this tournament could very well be his coming-out party.

    Duke is playing a rebuilding Tennessee team in the first round, so Rivers should be able to exploit their defensive weaknesses under new head coach Cuonzo Martin.

    The media coverage at the Maui Invitational will be extensive, and a great deal of attention will be focused on Rivers. Hopefully, he will live up to the hype, because fans across the country are ready to see him burst onto the collegiate scene.