Now Open, Rivers Explains Decision

Earlier this morning TDD noted that Winter Park (Fla.) guard Austin Rivers had decided to re-open his recruitment to both Duke and North Carolina. Now, the nation's number four overall prospect explains his thought process and how he sees his recruitment playing out.

"Honestly I've been thinking about it for most of the year," said Austin Rivers. "I just felt it would be easier for the other coaches to recruit me without feeling weird about it. I felt like Coach K and other coaches were in a tough position because I was still committed to Florida, so I have decided to re-open my recruitment."

The 6-foot-4 five start prospect is quick to point out, however, that in his mind a re-opening is not the same thing as a de-commitment.

"People see the word de-commitment and get an immediate negative thought in their head in terms of me going to Florida. That's not the case. I still love Florida as much as I did as a freshman, but I also wanted to look around and make sure everything was right for me now as it was when I committed as a freshman."

So Rivers made a tough phone call to Gator head coach Billy Donovan on Wednesday night.

"He was very understanding about the whole thing. He said that selfishly he'd like for me to be committed, but he understood that I only have one life and one chance to make the right college choice for me. He told me he respects my decisions and to do what I had to do."

So with his recruitment now completely re-opened, Rivers says he's looking at the Gators along with Duke and North Carolina. He does note, however, that other schools may also appear on his list as he goes through the process.

"I really just want to see the process and really look hard at the options. Now that I am open, I can really get up and see places I want to visit and really listen to what they have to say. It can get a lot more in-depth."

And speaking of potential visits...

"I am really hoping I can get up to Duke for their team banquet. I couldn't make it for the game where they beat North Carolina at home because of the state title game. But a chance to get up there and see the team and see the environment at its best - and celebrating the championship would be really great. I've talked to the coaches and some of the other recruits about it all, and I'm hoping to get up there for that. I just have to confirm my schedule, but I am sure it's going to be a special thing."

For most of the last few months that schedule has centered around high school basketball - from preseason preparation through league and state championships. Now, however, it's AAU basketball that's on the front burner for Rivers.

"I'm really looking forward to this summer. I'm going to be at Boo Williams this weekend. After that I know I'll be at the Nike Memorial Day event, the Peach Jam, the LeBron Skills Academy, and I'm going to tryout for Team USA again. After that I'm not really sure what's going to be happening."

"Regardless of our schedule, I want to be successful and I want to win. Winning is a lot of fun. I know its the summer before our senior year and a lot of guys are working on showcasing themselves, but I'm more focused on winning and becoming a more complete player. I am known, right now, as a strong offensive player, but I want to be known as a great defensive player. As a complete player. Because that's what coaches want from me."

Ranked as a shooting guard, but able to play the point guard position as well, Rivers says he considers himself as a "combo" guard.

"I want to play in a system that will allow you to play both positions. For instance at Duke you have a great guard in Kyrie [Irving]. If I got a rebound I could hit him on the wing and then we could really push the ball into the front court. But, if he got the rebound he could get it up to me and I could look to score or get other guys involved. Being able to play both positions and in a style that suits it is what [coaches] want to see, and I think my game is headed in that direction."

As previously noted, Rivers claims some bragging rights when it comes to filling out the 2010 NCAA Tournament bracket. But did he really predict Duke to win it all when the brackets were released in March?

"Yeah, I honestly picked them to win it. I also had Florida going pretty far too. Even if it wasn't overly realistic, I'm loyal to my teams."

So, with a correctly predicted tournament champion on his resume, who does Rivers like to be successful in 2010?

"Obviously Duke is going to be strong with Nolan and Kyrie in the backcourt, and probably Singler. Then you have North Carolina with Kendall and Harrison going there. After that I think you'll see Memphis being pretty strong because of all their talented guards. After that I'm not really sure."

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