Austin Rivers Q+A
We chopped it up with the future Blue Devil.
While checking out the NC Pro-Am on Tuesday, we spotted SLAM’s #1 player of the class of 2011, Austin Rivers, chilling in the stands. After shooting the Duke freshman a quick text asking if he’d have a few seconds to chop it up, he kindly obliged and we sat down for a little. The electricity surrounding Austin’s debut at Duke is a bit surreal, as he received more buzz when he entered the gym than NC’s own John Wall. The fans in the area seem to already be in love with their next star, as seen by the nearly 100 people who waited in line for autographs.
Once we linked up, we rapped about the Pro-Am, what Coach K sees his role at Duke becoming, and what keeps him motivated each and every day.
SLAM: Why’d you decide to play in the Pro-Am this summer?
Austin Rivers: I’m out here just to have some fun and play some games. We’re out here with the top talent in North Carolina, and all around the world for that matter. We’re kids in college right now and a lot of us have nothing else to do besides play basketball, so why not play in the Pro-Am?
SLAM: At Duke, you’re going to have a relatively system and here it’s a completely wide open style of play. Is there anything you’re looking to work on here at the Pro-Am that you’re going to take with you to Duke?
AR: Basically just being aggressive and making plays not just for myself, but for everyone else as well. That’s what I’m going to be doing in college next year. Coach K is not going to have me just as a scorer, but as a guy who can playmake for the Plumlees, Seth and Dre. It’s real free flowing here and that’s what we like to do at Duke. We like to get up and down and score a lot of points. Playing defense is one of the main reasons that I went to Duke. I want to prove that I can be one of the best defenders as well. I’m just very excited to be out here with these guys and go to Duke with a great coach.
SLAM: You talked about wanting to work on the playmaking side of things, but many in high school viewed you as more of a scorer. Has Coach K talked to you about what sort of role he’s going to have you playing? The 1? The 2? Both?
AR: A little bit of both as a combo guard. He just sees me as a playmaker, scoring and getting people involved. Kind of like what Nolan and Kyrie did. He averaged 5, 6 assists and then got 20-some points.That’s something that I’m going to try to do. Basically, he just wants me to be aggressive, go out there, and compete. He just wants us to have fun, and that’s what I”m going to do.
SLAM: You were our top ranked player in the class of 2011, and the #1 player in the country by a lot of people. What is it that keeps you motivated to get better on a daily basis?
AR: At the end of the day, I haven’t done anything yet in my mind. I’ve received a lot of high school accolades, but at the end of the day I don’t play with Raymond Felton and John Wall on the court. I have to work to make it to the same court as those guys and play in the NBA, which is my dream. I have a lot to work on. I have weaknesses and I have strengths that I need to keep working on to get better.
SLAM: What is the one thing that you’ve learned the most from your father (Celtics coach Doc Rivers)?
AR: Just never to settle, man. There have been so many kids that have talent that have just stopped getting better. That’s one of the reasons that I have been ranked amongst the top players for so long. Even when I was ranked #3 in the country, that really bothered me because I always want to be the best. You can rank me 100 or 1, but I’m always going to work to be the best. That’s the main thing that my Dad taught me: Never settle.
SLAM: I missed your debut down here at the Pro-Am because I was up at LeBron camp, but I hear you created quite the buzz. Who is the one guy here at the Pro-Am that you’re looking to go at the most?
AR: It doesn’t really matter to me. I mean, all of these guys are great. I got to go up against UNC guys and even some of my own Duke teammates. I don’t view it as a one on one matchup. I wish I could have been there with you at LeBron, but I wasn’t allowed so…
SLAM: Since you’ve been down here at Duke, what’s the craziest thing that an opposing team’s fan has said to you, done to you, whatever?
AR: Nothing really, actually. The people down here are basketball fans, and it’s either North Carolina or Duke. They say so much that you don’t really even remember it. It’s all fun and games, so it doesn’t really bother me.