Austin Rivers…Set Free


As most of you have already heard, Austin Rivers, a  five-star guard from the state of Florida and son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, has officially de-committed from the Florida Gators.

"“I just thought it would be best for me to officially open it up,” said Rivers, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound combo guard from Winter Park (Fla.) High School. “Florida is still an option, but this will make everything easier for everyone else.”"

If you’ve been paying attention, then you are well aware that Duke is interested in Doc’s kid and that Doc’s kid is interested in Duke. If you haven’t been paying attention…then I guess you know now.

Here’s the deal, Rivers is clearly a kid who made an important decision way too early. Nobody should be picking a college when they are sophomores. While I wouldn’t count out Florida just yet, the favorites seem to be Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas and Texas.

I read something today that says Duke is the favorite of the favorites (call it the post-title love bump). This has already gotten some fans worried that Roy Williams will pull another ‘Harrison Barnes’ on Coach K and steal the kid right out from under us.While I feel like Duke and Austin have a good relationship and Rivers is saying all the right things, I think it’s too early to call anyone the favorite right now and I’m certainly not worried about the Tar Heels sweeping in late and stealing Coach’s K’s prom date again.

Rivers is the top rated shooting guard in the 2011 class, he’s not going to sit and wait his turn on some team’s bench. In 2011, Carolina will already have (sophomore) Marshall, (junior) Strickland and (junior) McDonald playing shooting guard. That’s called a log-jam. Of course Duke potentially has the same issues. While the Devils will lose Nolan Smith after this next season, they still have both Curry and Dawkins at the shooting guard spot.

This is why I would take a good, hard look at school’s like Kentucky and Kansas, which is a bit interesting only because neither school has recruited Rivers at this point. Of course that hasn’t stopped Rivers from “recruiting” them.

Austin Rivers:

"“Maybe Kentucky,” said Rivers when asked if there were other schools he would consider. “I like the way they play. They really let their guards go. Maybe Texas and Kansas too. I just need to see who I hear from and if it is a place I would be interested in.”"

Now you have to assume both schools will get heavily involved. In Kentucky, Caliapri is going to have to redo his whole roster (again) this season. Right now, you have to assume Brandon Knight will land Kentucky, along with (SF) Terrance Jones.

Of course Caliapri needs to find a replacement for Eric Bledsoe. The two best options are Doran Lamb (3rd reated SG) and Terrance Ross (21st Rated SG). Both have Kentucky at the top of their lists. However, both are being targeted by Kansas as well.The thing to remember about this season’s incoming class is, they’re good, but not super-great. In fact, I’m not sure I see a one-and-done among them, although that won’t stop some from trying to be. This means this year’s top recruits will still be playing when players like Austin need to decide on a new home.

If Calipari brings in Lamb, I suspect he’ll be a two-and-done guy. If that’s the case, does he have a spot for Austin Rivers? Of course I never thought he’d land both John Wall and Eric Bledsoe and how did that work out?Now look at Kansas. They lose Xavier Henry, but bring back Tyshawn Taylor, who will be a senior in 2011. Currently the Jayhawks are going after many of the same players Kentucky is going after. Right now, all they have coming in is Royce Woolridge, the 33rd best HS shooting gaurd.

So, I’m telling you a ton of stuff, but what the hell is my point? I don’t always have one, but I do this time.When it comes to the scholarship heavy Kansas/Kentucky battle this offseason, the winner this year could be the loser in the Austin Rivers sweepstakes, simple because the loser will have a need for a solid SG in 2011.

If I was a gambling man, I’d say Kentucky beats Kansas for the top guards in this incoming class, making Kansas the winner in the Austin Rivers battle.

If I’m right, that would make Kansas the favorite by a little, followed by Duke, Kentucky and finally North Carolina

In the end though, Austin can now take a wait-and-see approach. According to some experts, he’s the No 1 rated player (overall), so there is no rush to make a decision. He will wait and see what happens this year and see what opens up for him at the end of the season.