Q&A with Austin Rivers

HAMPTON, Va. --- Austin Rivers draws a crowd. The No. 1-ranked shooting guard in the 2011 class played in front of a standing room only audience and a large media group Friday night at the Boo Williams Invitational. Afterward, InsideCarolina.com talked in-depth with Rivers about his recruitment ...

First game of the AAU season (17 points in an upset win over Team Final) ...

"I was so rusty today. It felt like the first time I'd played in four weeks. It's so much different from high school to AAU ball. The pace is so much faster, it's fun to play."

Is your role different with this squad as opposed to at Winter Park?

"It's the same really for everything -- playmaker, scorer, leader. I try to be the best leader I can; I'm working on that. AAU is about working on things, improving my left hand, guarding better players. "

How do you handle when the shots aren't falling, like you started tonight?

"You've got to keep playing. I started the game 0-5, 0-6, you've got to keep playing. If I'd stopped, it would have gotten worse. There are going to be more nights like this, but you've got to keep going. That's what scorer's do."

You decommitted from Florida this week. Can you talk about the reasoning behind that decision?

"I felt like I needed to decommit just to make it more comfortable for other teams to recruit me. Some teams felt awkward recruiting me because I was committed. I reopened everything so I could look at other schools. I only get one (college) decision in this life so I want to make sure it was the right one."

How did it go with Coach Donovan when you decommitted?

"He was very respectful. He's a great coach, great guy. He told me he's still going to be there for me and he's still going to recruit the heck out of me."

Do you think he saw this coming?

"A little bit, because it's been rumored so much and I've talked to him before mentioning that I might do it, so I think he knew it was coming."

There was a lot of buzz starting last summer about a possible decommitment. When did you really start thinking about it?

"Probably the last month I really started thinking about it and felt it was the right thing for me to do. I think it put me in a better position so I did it."

Can you talk about what schools have started showing interest since you decommitted?

"It's what I'm interested in - right now it's Florida, North Carolina, Duke and then possibly Kentucky, Texas - one of those two schools. ... I love Florida the same as I did when I committed, I just feel like I need to look at other opportunities. As I said earlier, I only have one chance to make this right, so I felt I needed to see stuff to compare. I didn't think it was right to just compare Duke and Florida, I needed schools to compare to those two."

What are the main factors you're looking for in picking a school?

"I think you have to have a great relationship with the coach and you have to like the style of play. I like going up and down, I like scoring, I like shooting threes, I like playing defense. I like going up and down - I don't want to play the Princeton offense. The schools I chose are going to play an up and down game. ... I want to go to a program where it's the prime time stage - if you can shine there you're good."

How important is a team's recent success in your decision?

"I chose Florida after they won two national championships. They've had a couple years struggling and they're rebuilding. ... I really don't look at a (program's) success as far as how they did a year when I wasn't there, I look at how they'll be when I'm there because that's all that matters."

Are you keeping in mind the players you might play with in college in making your decision?

"Definitely, for instance I'd play with Kenny Boynton, Patric Young and Brad Beal at Florida ... and at Duke I'd be playing with Kyrie Irving and such. You keep those things in mind."

What about other players at your position?

"No, I think I should play wherever I go because I'm going to work hard. I think one thing I have is a good work ethic - you have to. You can't just cruise. I've got a target on my back. That's just how it is. You have to play good players to win and if you look at the teams that win the national championship they usually have about four good players."

What time frame are you looking at right now for your recruitment?

"I'd say I'd make a decision in August, probably."

Does that mean you're not expecting to take official visits?

"I definitely want to go on -- well, yeah, because that'd be before my senior year. See, that's the thing, though, I might want to make official visits, but I'm trying to get it done before my high school senior season."

So which schools do you want to visit?

"I want to visit Duke and Florida again, and I want to visit North Carolina, and then I'm going to pick a couple random schools like Kentucky, Texas or someone like that."

Would you use a visit to the Triangle to see both North Carolina and Duke on the same trip?

"Yeah, I'd do it the same time - they're eight miles from each other, so I'd do it at the same time."

What are you looking to accomplish on those visits?

"You have to see what it's like, meet the players, get a feel for the school, because you're going to be there for a whole year, or two years or three years or whatever it is."

The schools that you've already established a relationship with, will they have an edge on the new schools entering the picture?

"No, because at the end of the day it's going to be where I feel like I need to go. And anywhere I go I'm going to have a good relationship with the coach."

Can you talk about how North Carolina got involved?

"Roy Williams had called me and started talking to me and said he really wants me to go there and run the show with another guard, with me and him being the scorer-playmaker, and that's really what I want to do. And if you look at North Carolina's success in winning and getting players to the NBA, why not look at it?"

When did Roy Williams' interest in you begin?

"I remember they were interested in me when I was an eighth-ninth grader - I remember him coming to my AAU games, but I committed so early that everything stopped."

How did that recently get re-initiated with UNC?

"I had my coach contact them to say I'm interested and then they called me."

And Kentucky, you've noted you're interested in adding them ...

"Why not? You see their players and their success - John Wall this year, last year Tyreke, the year before Derrick Rose and next year Brandon Knight or Josh Selby ... I've not had any communication (with Kentucky) yet."

Are you close with any players or recruits on the teams that are recruiting you?

"I'm really close with Kenny Boynton at Florida, I grew up playing against him. That's really it (in terms of current players). I don't really know any (players) at North Carolina, but I'm really close with Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes and they're North Carolina people ... And Kyrie, that's my dude. My two best friends in AAU are Kyrie Irving and Myck Kabongo and they try to get me to Texas and Duke. Those are two great guards that I'd love to play with. I text Myck every day."

Can you talk about your father's involvement in your recruitment?

"He gives me advice but he wants me to make my own decision. He's going to look out for me and make sure I pick the school that fits me best, but he'll let me make my own decision."

Is he good friends with any of the coaches that are recruiting you?

"I swear he talks to every single person he meets, so I think he talks to everybody."

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