Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
So I was standing next to New York recruiting expert Tom Konchalski at last week’s Boost Mobile game…and I asked him, “If you could start a college basketball team with any of the 24 players in this event, who would it be?”
Tom’s answer wasn’t Jared Sullinger, Kyrie Irving, Tobias Harris or Josh Selby…“Austin Rivers,” he said.
“First of all, he has a very mature understanding of the game,” Tom said of the 6-foot-3, 175-pound junior out of Winter Park (FL) Winter Park. “He has a very high level of skill. You can just look at him and see how young he is physically. He’s a legitimate 6-4 now, he’ll end up a 6-5 guard and he’s just getting his legs. He’s just growing into his athleticism now.
“A year ago at the City of Palms, he couldn’t dunk the ball on a breakaway. Now he’s doing all sorts of acrobatic dunks. He just has the perfect combination. He understands the game. He has the skill. HE grew up a coach’s son and he’s always been really efficient with the ball. He can shoot the ball. He knows now to create separation. He knows how to get to the basket and knows how to finish.
“I really think he’s as good of a guard as there is in high school basketball, irrespective of class. Brandon Knight, who is his AAU teammate with Each One Teach One would probably be his competition as the best guard in high school. But he’s only an underclassmen. He’s only going to be a junior.
“The sky’s the limit.”
Rivers committed to Florida as a high school freshman “because I wanted to get all the recruiting stuff out the way. I did this so I could concentrate on getting better and enjoy being a normal kid,” he told BoxofMess.com.
Still, Konchalski thinks Rivers’ commitment was premature.
“Kids commit way too early,” Tom said. “With Austin Rivers, even though he says he’s still committed, his father wants him to visit Duke, North Carolina, UConn and UCLA.
“He said he’s still committed but his father wants him to take some more visits. When a kid’s a sophomore, he doesn’t know what he wants for lunch, no less where he wants to go to school. It just underscores the folly of kids committing so early.
“To me committing is like being pregnant. Either you are you aren’t.”
When I approached Doc Rivers, the Celtics coach, about his son’s commitment, he said:
“He’s going to Florida, there’s no doubt about that. He’s committed there, he’s a Florida kid.
“I just thought he should look [at other schools] just to make sure that’s where he wants to go, but that’s where he wants to go.”
(Photo courtesy MaxPreps.com)Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.