Rumors & Physical Play Plague Livingston

If he didn't have a target on his back earlier this year, future Blue Devil Shaun Livingston knows it's there now. The 6-foot-7 floor general is being pushed, grabbed, and beaten as he tries to lead Peoria Central back to a state title.

Before he can address the straight to the NBA rumors surrounding him, Shaun Livingston is going to focus his attention on leading the Peoria Central Lions to an Illinois state title, leaving many NBA and Duke fans waiting and wondering.

"My focus is on finishing out this season the right way," Livingston told TDD. "I'm not thinking about anything else at this point. I want to win another title before I do anything else."

He certainly took steps in the right direction in Peoria's first round contest, as his 12 points, eight assists, and four steals paced the Lions to an easy 78-34 victory over LaSalle-Peru in the Class AA Ottawa Regional semifinal round of the Illinois playoffs.

With his opponents hacking him repeatedly, including one intentional foul, Livingston maintained his cool while leading his team to the win. It's something he says he's going to have to get used to moving forward in his career.

"People always want to make a name for themselves against you when you're on top. We've seen that this year as a team, and I'll see it next year at Duke I am sure. It's something Coach K talked to me about when I committed, I've just got to do what I do and not worry about what other people are doing."

Though he says his mindset is focused on another title, Livingston does acknowledge the rumors surrounding his immediate and long-term future. However the decision those rumors deal with isn't made yet, and isn't on his immediate ‘to do' list either.

"After the season I am looking forward to going to the all star games and playing against the best players I can. After that I'll sit down with Coach K and my family and we'll make the best decision for me. The NBA is part of my goal -- I don't just want to get there, I also want to make an impact."

But what if the draft was being held tomorrow? What would be his mindset?

"It depends on where I was going to be picked. Not just when. I mean why want to go play for a team that's just getting started when you have the chance to go play for Coach K? There is so much he can teach me, and I'd be playing for a Hall of Fame coach while learning to be a much more complete player, which could help become even more ready for making the league."

With the lure of the NBA millions on the horizon it's hard to imagine the kind of decision facing Livingston. However it's not as cut and dry as many fans seem to think. Rather, there are many pros and cons to each choice.

"Going straight to the league means getting the initial contract, but after that it's all on me to improve and fix what I need to fix in my game. The good thing is that you can work on your game the entire time, but it's still a job. In school you have to work on improving, but you've also got to balance in going to class and things like that, but then you've got a great education and a degree that'll help you if your dreams in the NBA don't work out for whatever reason."

TDD will continue to track Livingston's progression through the Illinois state playoffs and his performances in both the McDonald's American Game and Roundball Classic.

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