Scout.com's Dave Telep was kind enough to talk to me about Austin Rivers' commitment to Duke for my column, running in The Chronicle today. The full Q & A is below:
The Chronicle: In your own words, describe Austin Rivers’ game.
Dave Telep: Austin’s game is extremely mature for a high school basketball player. He’s got a scoring array. He has just a whole bunch of scoring packages that are different than the rest of the kids in high school ball. He’s strong, he’s physical, he’s got behind the line, to the rim, finish with contact, you name it. The easiest way to picture Austin Rivers is a guy that’s just more advanced. And it sounds very simple but the fact of the matter is he has NBA style about him in terms of what he can do as a perimeter player.
How does he compare to other top recruits in years past like John Wall or Derrick Rose?
He’s in the ballpark with some of those guys. John Wall and Derrick Rose did what he wants to do, which is get to college and continue to mature your game. But in terms of entering college he’s a guy who’s on target to have a similar kind of impact.
Talk about Austin’s recruitment. What was the process of him making this decision?
I think when he publically decommitted from Florida, cause there was a definite time there where he was decommitted but there was a façade of remaining committed, but once he publically decommitted it looked to me like Duke moved into a leadership position with him that they never relinquished. Like any other high school kid I think Austin wanted the opportunity to look around and see what was out there. But this one, behind closed doors, in the circles that people like myself run in this was heading Duke’s way. It would’ve been an upset of pretty big proportions if he went anywhere else.
Was this recruitment at all close to being another Harrison Barnes situation?
There’s always a risk anytime a guy goes on another campus. But as similar as situations were with Harrison Barnes, Duke was definitely more ingrained in Rivers. Even though they were strong with Barnes with Rivers they appeared to be even more dug in.
What does this commitment do to Duke’s image and future Duke recruiting classes?
Competing for championships the next few years gives Coach Krzyzewski the opportunity… to look at this through the lens of the only active coach who owns an Olympic gold medal, a World Championship and a national championship at the same time. It is quite a unique recruiting pitch, and I can tell you that it will be leveraged to the hilt as it should be.
Duke has one more scholarship left in the Class of 2011. Who should fans keep an eye on?
I think right now the primary target is Quinn Cook. I think that’s the decision that they want to go with. That’s the guy they probably have as number one on their board right now.
TC: Will getting Austin help in Duke’s recruitment of Cook?
There will be some people who use getting Austin against Duke. That’s going to happen. Duke’s task is to make the pitch that it will work with two guards and the backcourt will be strong and they can play off of each other. And I think that will happen because I think Austin’s college career will look a lot like Tyreke Evans where he’s not quite ready to be a point guard, they let him do what he does which is score the basketball, and once he got to the professional level he became a true NBA lead guard. So I think the opportunity to play with other guards will exist alongside Austin Rivers.
Now I’ll put you on the spot here—Do you think Austin Rivers will win a national championship at Duke?
Let’s just say that things play out this year like they are schedule to on paper—that would give Duke back-to-back national championships and the pressure to win three in a row would be something we haven’t seen since they won two in a row last time. You would think if they win this year, statistically the odds would be stacked against them. It’s a fun question to toss around but its impossible to say. My biggest concern would be if they win this year, the pressure to win the next year would be absurd.
But I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that Austin Rivers, combined with the people they have in their program, and lets forget Kyrie Irving is no sure thing to leave after one year, you’re looking at a potential backcourt of Quinn Cook, Kyrie Irving, Tyler Thorton—that’s a mega backcourt. And don’t forget Seth Curry, all he did was lead the Big South in scoring. There’s a host of different directions this thing could go. Not even Mike Krzyzewski knows what the roster will look like when Austin Rivers steps foot on campus.
Is there any chance Rivers stays for more than one year?
This is what everybody is just glossing over. The lockout, things are going to change with the collective bargaining agreement. It is entirely possible that we see either a 20 year age limit instituted or we see two years in college required. People who use the term one-and-done from this point forward are putting themselves in a position to get a little egg on their faces, because one-and-done could be a term that is one-and-done after this year. We may have kids coming into college for two years now.