After playing in the Peach Jam early on, River jumped off the AAU summer scene in favor of playing for USA Basketball. There he teamed with several college bound players to help the team take home the Gold Medal in the FIBA U18 Americas tournament. Now, after Boost Mobile's Elite 24 event he's returning home to embark on the final leg of his recruitment which will lead to a decision by the middle of October.
"Right now I've got two official visits set up to Duke and North Carolina. I'm going up to North Carolina on October 1st through the 3rd. Coach Roy [Williams] and his assistants have been sending some nice letters and I've talked to them on the phone. I'm going to head up there and really see what the campus is like. I am looking to see what kind of practices they run. How the coaches treat the players. That kind of thing."
Two weeks later Rivers will return to Tobacco Road just eight eight miles away from Chapel Hill where the reigning national champions will kick off their season with the annual Countdown to Craziness event in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The preseason event will include, among other things, the unveiling of the 2010 championship banner as well as the preseason scrimmages and dunk contests.
"It's going to be wild. I'm going with Mason Plumlee to win the dunk contest. That guy can jump out of the gym. For being a big guy he's ridiculously athletic. If not him, then it'll be Andre [Dawkins]. I'll also get a chance to see Duke in practice and see how Coach works with the guys and how they are going to change things up with Kyrie [Irving]."
Both the Blue Devils and Tar Heels have been making a strong push for Rivers over the last few months with each coaching staff placing the allowed calls on top of the usual recruiting tactics of hand written notes, photos, etc. Most recently Rivers had a chance to speak with Mike Krzyzewski as the coach was preparing to tip off in another competition.
"I guess the most recent call was from Coach K. It was just before they were getting on the court for Team USA. It was really cool that he and Coach Collins took that time. I've also been able to talk to North Carolina and Coach Roy and they've been coming really hard."
Speaking of Team USA, does the former U18 team member have any opinions on the senior team currently competing in Turkey?
"I've actually recorded their games each day. They aren't as good as they Olympic team, but they have a lot of athleticism and they use their roster really well. I think they are going to bring home the gold."
After returning to Orlando on the 16th, Rivers says he may look towards a decision or he may think about another visit or two. Regardless of what he decides, however, he will have the recruiting process behind him before Winter Park goes for another championship.
"I will definitely be done with recruiting before my season starts. I may visit either Kansas or Florida as well. I'd like to."
Regardless of where his decision takes him, the nation's top rated shooting guard believes he has the ability to have a very short stay in college. His goal of being a one and done player are well documented, and he had a chance to discuss that goal over the last week with several one-and-done turned NBA guards.
"I had a chance to talk to John Wall, Tyreke Evans, DeMar DeRozan, and other guys this week. I mean with every class you can look and figure out who is one and done. I mean when those guys were in high school everyone knew they were gone after a season. You see it in the current freshman class as well. I mean look at Harrison Barnes. There's no way that guy will be in school for more than a year. They talked to me about the kind of work you have to put in and how you can't be satisfied. A lot of times the top high school guys get in there and believe their own hype and fall off. I don't want that to happen. I want a coach to challenge me to be better each and every day. Those guys all talked about going when the time is right for you. That may be one year or it may be two, three, or four. I believe that if I go in and play my game I will have a chance to be one and done."
Before he can walk across the stage and shake David Stern's hand, however, Rivers will likely make quite the mark on college hoops starting with his pending decision. Once that's done the only remaining questions will be which other players join him at his school of choice. So, if Rivers was calling the shots, which players would he like to have as teammates in 2011-2012?
"I'd probably have Myck Kabongo and myself in the backcourt with Mike Gbinije as the small forward. He's a really unselfish player who does a little bit of everything. I think my four would be Quincy Miller. I'm not really sure who would play the five right now, but that would be a really athletic start."
Rivers is rated as a five star recruit and the nation's top shooting guard according to Scout.com.