Rivers Looking To Compare Programs This Fall

Rated as one of the top three overall prospects in the class of 2011 by Scout.com, Winter Park (Fla.) guard Austin Rivers was a huge feather in the cap of the Florida staff when he committed last summer. A year later, however, rumors of the talented prospect testing his commitment have been acknowledged by the Rivers camp. TDD spoke with the five star player to get the scoop.

"I am still committed to Florida," said Winter Park (Fla.) guard Austin Rivers. "But, I am going to check some other schools out to look around in case anything happens with them. In a sense I'm just comparing the other schools to Florida so I can make sure I know why Florida."

Testing his commitment seems natural after committing as a sophomore. However, Rivers says he's entering this process with the understanding that he's a future Gator. As such, he's yet to personally speak with the coaches at any of his prospective schools. Still, as he tries to solidify "why Florida?", it's wise for him to remember the answer that earned coach Billy Donnovan a commitment in the first place.

"First of all they are close to my house. Close enough where I can get away for school, but my mom can still do the laundry. Plus it's got a great athletic program. It's the top football school in the country and the basketball program is back on the rise. I think if things go well with recruiting, I could help them win another National Title."

And what could change his mind in terms of his future in Gainesville?

"Honestly I am not worried about Coach Donnovan and his staff going anywhere. I don't see anything like that happening. I guess the thing I'm looking for are things like having too many guards playing the same position. But, one of the major reasons is out of respect for my dad. He suggested that I look around just to make sure."

Schools listed by Rivers as those he would like to visit included Duke, Connecticut, UCLA, and North Carolina. The reasoning is simple for Rivers - he believes each program has much to offer any player of a high major status.

"Those programs are pretty much the top of the line when it comes to basketball programs. These are the ones I want to look into to. All of them have had a lot of success in sending players to the NBA and keeping them there. When it comes down to it, the right place for me is one that's not too far from home - though a plane ride is a plane ride. I also need to be comfortable with the coach and comfortable in the offense. I want to be the kind of guard who comes off screens and can score, but also one who can find his teammates and get them involved. All the programs I'm thinking about have similar offensive styles to Florida's."

Perhaps some of Rivers' decision to look around and test his commitment comes from his parents, but their reasoning is simple and grounded in a situation close to home.

"My older brother made a bad choice for him. He went up to Georgetown and didn't enjoy it. He didn't fit in with their offensive scheme because they run a system that basically only used him for his defense. So he ended up having to transfer to Indiana to be able to run and play his game. That's why we are being cautious. You really only get one shot at this. I mean, I know you can transfer, but then you have to redshirt and deal with all that. It's easier, and better for everyone if you just find the right place before you enroll."

However, being already publicly committed to another high major program will likely pose some obstacles for Rivers as he returns to this quasi-recruiting process. For starters, he's going to have to - likely - initiate contact with the schools more so than if he remained un-committed.

"None of the coaches have really reached out. It's out of respect for Coach Donnovan I think. At some point I know I will need to do that and contact the programs I want to visit. Up until this point, my dad has been the one communicated with. He's a great resource and he's got a lot of knowledge when it comes to dealing with the basketball and off the court stuff."

With no official visits able to happen due Rivers being just a rising junior, and with a self-imposed timeline of having a firm commitment in place before the start of 2010's summer, it would appear as though this fall is a crucial time. Which indicates that some coaches will eventually be getting a phone call from the top rated point guard in 2011.

"When I do talk with them, I'm going to ask them a lot of the same things I asked the Florida coaches. I want to see how I would fit in with their program. I want them to tell me about what their program has to offer and, basically, 'Why them?'. That's kind of a business angle to a decision. I want to see where I would be off the court. Where would I live. How would I fit in. That kind of thing. I definitely want to have this wrapped up before next summer, so I can go into the AAU and then my senior season concentrating on enjoying them and not having to worry about recruiting."

Two schools mentioned as receiving visits in the next few months were Connecticut and Duke. The Huskies are a convenient stop as Rivers flies to Boston to visit his dad - Celtics' head coach Doc Rivers. Meanwhile the Blue Devils and Rivers were, "trying to find a date that worked".

On the court, Rivers says that he's continuing to work on his game and the work provides a comfortable distraction from the pressures of a high major re-recruiting process. To that point he's working on improving his abilities on the defensive side of the ball, and he's looking to become more of a point guard this high school season. When identifying things he needs to work on, Rivers knows he's got a pretty good evaluator at home.

"Right now I'm more of a combo guard who can just his length and athleticism to get to the basket, as well as someone who has a nice jumper. If you asked my dad what I need to work on, he'd say my defense, and I know that. With my length and athleticism I should be a better defender than I am right now. But, this summer, I think I got a lot better there. Brandon [Knight] and I took turns guarding the opponents' best player every game, which was a great challenge for me. Another thing I want to work on is becoming more of a distributor. I'm really working to get more guys involved this season."

Rivers is currently rated as the nation's top point guard and number three overall prospect by Scout.com in the class of 2011.

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