Rivers Eyeing Friday Return

After sustaining an ankle injury at the Hoop Hall Classic earlier this month, 2011 standout Austin Rivers has been waiting to get back on the court. He'll get his wish this week. But the downtime has allowed the 6'4 combo guard to reflect on a number of topics.

"It was a pretty bad sprain on the inside of my ankle," said Austin Rivers of the injury that has sidelined him. "I've been icing it for six or seven days, but it's just a sprain and I'll be ready to go on Friday."

The self-imposed Friday deaden corresponds with Winter Park's game against Dr. Phillips High - one of the Wildcats' chief in-state rivals.

"I'm looking forward to getting back out there - especially for that game. We have a couple of rivalries around the state and they are one of them. They're a good team and are ranked in the top five of the state, so it should be a fun match up for us."

Of course big match-ups and games are nothing new for Winter Park. The Wildcats have already played a national schedule against teams from six different states.

Most notable for Duke fans, however, was the game against Gonzaga Prep. In that game Rivers matched up against Duke bound point guard Tyler Thornton. And, of course, it was also the game in which Rivers sustained the injury.

"It was a really good game for us because Gonzaga Prep is really good team. We played well and were able to beat them."

"As far as my ankle went, it was just a case of me going fast with the basketball. I was going down court and tried to make a move. It was like my body went one way and my ankle went the other. There were all kinds of people texting and asking about it, but it was just a sprain."

Prior to the injury, Rivers had amassed 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field including 3-of-7 from the perimeter to help the Wildcats turn a one point halftime deficit into a seven point lead after the third quarter despite the best efforts of Thornton. Still, Rivers admits he had to work for everything.

"Tyler is a really good player. He's not super athletic, but he's just smart and he's really effective. You can tell just tell he knows how to play the game. He's the kind of player that Duke attracts -- he's just a guy who knows how to play the game."

The irony being that Rivers is the player head coach Mike Krzyzewski and company are hoping to attract to Durham to team with Thornton, and Kyrie Irving as the proverbial next great backcourt to suit up for the Blue Devils.

"Right now I'm going to be heading up to the North Carolina game at Duke. I've been to Cameron twice before. This summer when I took my visit it was great. Playing in the new facilities, and seeing Cameron was just awesome. Then, a few years ago my brother played for Georgetown and they visited Duke so I got to see it from that side of things. This time, however, will be my first time in Cameron as Duke fan and cheering for Duke. Openly, anyway."

Despite the forthcoming visit, Rivers' recruiting status remains unchanged. The five star prospect and No. 4 overall recruit is verbally committed to Florida, but continues a mutual recruiting relationship with the Blue Devils. And, for the foreseeable future, that's not going to change.

"Until the high school season is over, but maybe before the summer, I'm going to start looking at the recruiting process again. Right now the focus is solely on high school basketball and our team's season. It's a nice distraction from it all."

On the season Rivers is averaging 23.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game for Winter Park. He is shooting 63 percent from the field and 36 percent from long range in helping the Wildcats to a 15-4 overall record and #1 ranking in the Florida 6A classification.

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