- Paul Biancardi, Basketball Recruiting
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Shooting guard Austin Rivers, the No. 1-ranked player in the recruiting class of 2011, has committed to Duke, according to his high school coach.
Rivers, who at one time was committed to Florida, is a highly sought-after playmaker from Winter Park, Fla. He revealed his college plans Thursday, Winter Park coach David Bailey said.
Rivers broke the news to Kansas coach Bill Self and North Carolina's Roy Williams, the coaches of two of Rivers' top three choices, on Thursday morning. Rivers canceled the remainder of his campus visits, including one he was planning to take to North Carolina this weekend.
"He picked Duke because of [Mike Krzyzewski] and his staff," Bailey said. "There is a ton of tradition at Duke, and it was the best place for him from a basketball and academic standpoint."
Rivers' father, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, said Thursday that his son's commitment has not been finalized.
"He's leaning [toward Duke] and most likely he'll commit in the next couple days," Rivers said. "But it's not official, yet. I'll wait and let him do it."
The 6-foot-4, 189-pound Rivers could have an immediate impact once he gets to Cameron in Duke's up-tempo, fast-breaking style of play. He is a prolific scorer, has range out to 28 feet and an excellent mid-range game. He uses the jab-step as well as seasoned pros, can finish through contact when attacking the basket and has the best NBA-level floater over bigs of any player in the high school or college ranks.
When teams adjust to try to stop Rivers, he is able to easily convert into a playmaker for his teammates using his vision and passing skills.
Duke already has the No. 7-ranked class in the country, led by ESPNU 100 shooting guard Michael Gbinije (Chester, Va./Benedictine), but by landing Rivers the Blue Devils are sure to at least jump into the top five.
Paul Biancardi, who has been a head coach and assistant on NCAA tournament teams, is the national director of basketball recruiting. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter. Information from ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg was included in this report.
22hBrando Simeo Starkey, The Undefeated staff writer