Rivers Still Flowing For Florida

He's just finished up his sophomore season, but Austin Rivers decided to be a Gator long ago. Fightin' Gators catches up with the star basketball player from the class of 2011.

Having committed early to play at Florida during his college years, it would be easy for Austin Rivers to rest easy. Plenty of other players have done it in the past and still found success, but that isn't what the 6-foot-3 guard from Winter Park is all about.

The son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, he's only gotten more focused as he's gotten older and closer to his arrival in Gainesville.

"The main thing is that you've got to stay hungry," said Rivers. "Just because you've committed and have rankings and stuff like that there are people who are still going to come at you and try to make a name for themselves. So, you've got to stay focused."

Watch him play for even a few minutes, and it's quite clear that focus, or lack of it, isn't an issue for Rivers. A fiery competitor, Rivers plays with just as much determination as he does skill and athleticism. He also understands that the status achieved with an early commitment and high ranking often means he plays with a bit of a target on his chest.

Being a target isn't something Rivers shies away from either, he actually likes when the competition comes at him with a little something extra.

"I like it, it makes the game more competitive," said Rivers. "I don't like stuff coming easy for me. Foul trouble, people out there grabbing my jersey and stuff like that. I like it because it makes things tougher and more competitive."

Well known as a scorer, Rivers is a skilled ball handler capable of creating separation from defenders with a variety of crossover, hesitation and change of direction dribble moves. Also dangerous as a shooter from deep, he envisions himself as guy who can also get others involved while still generating his own offense.

"I think I can be a scorer but somebody who can get my teammates involved. I think I can be more of a combo guard," said Rivers. "My strength is the main thing right now. I keep working on my ball handling and my shooting but overall I'm focusing on my strength."

Not surprisingly, Rivers also keeps in contact with Billy Donovan and the Gators staff.

"I talk to coach Donovan about once every week," said Rivers. "I'm going to go up there with Brandon (Knight) soon to workout, talk to the coaches and play some pickup with the players and hang out. It's not like people probably think, though, I'm not involved with them too much because I like to let them have their space."

More recently, rumors had swirled on the grassroots basketball circuit that Rivers could be looking elsewhere. All he can do is shake his head and laugh.

"People are going to talk," Rivers told Figthin' Gators or other programs attempts to get to him. "People have their own opinion. I just keep playing and don't worry about what other people say. There are other schools (looking to make contact) right now, but I'm committed to Florida and that's where I'm going to go."

Looking ahead to his final two years of high school, Rivers hopes he can finish just as strong as he started. For now, he's just looking forward to doing the best he can at the bevy of summer events he's scheduled to attend on the Nike circuit and camps like NBPA and LeBron James. He also wants to be sure that people know him for who he is and not because of who his father may be.

"It's just about getting better," said Rivers. "I like competing. Especially in these Nike tournaments because they have the all the best players around. The main thing is to compete and prove to everybody that I have my own name. It's not just because of my dad and who he is. I'm trying to create my own name and be my own person."

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