As Duke prepares to defend its national title, Mike Krzyewski’s also working on re-loading the roster for the 2011-12 season.
And he isn’t messing around.
Austin Rivers, the No. 1-rated recruit in the class of 2011, gave a verbal commitment to Coach K’s program Wednesday night, passing on trips to Kansas and North Carolina, the two remaining schools he was considering.
“He made that decision last night,” Rivers’ high school coach, David Bailey told the Orlando Sentinel Thursday morning. “Austin felt most comfortable with their coaches and their program. He just fell in love with their school.”
Rivers had been seen wearing Blue devils gear during the summer AAU circuit, so the decision shouldn’t be a huge surprise. It should be noted he’d given a verbal commitment before — in July 2008 to Florida. The difference is that he was 15-years-old back then (and Florida was coming off its a pair of national titles) and wasn’t entirely settled on his hoops future. If he’s not in Durham come fall 2011, it’d be a shock.
“I’ve always been a big fan of when a player knows where he wants to go, he should make his decision at that time,” Bailey told the paper. “Each player is going to have a different timetable for that. It was time for Austin.
“He thought long and hard about it. I think he made a great decision.”
Rivers isn’t just loved by scouts, either. He helped the U.S. to a golf medal in the FIBA world junior tournament this summer and led the team in scoring (20.2 ppg), while hitting 58 percent of his shots. At one point, he set a tourney record by making nine straight 3-pointers.
The 6-4 guard boasts an impressive offensive game: NBA shooting range, a sweet mid-range jumper and good size, which he uses to his advantage when he does drive to the basket.
If Kyrie Irving does stick around for his sophomore season, the two would form one of the most talented backcourts in the country — and perhaps in Duke’s illustrious history.
For those who feel like daydreaming in Durham, dream about the possibility of three straight titles.