Austin Rivers: 10 Bold Predictions for the Duke Blue Devil's Freshman Season
Austin Rivers is widely considered the best incoming freshman in all of college basketball. Playing under Coach K at Duke, he will certainly have the proper guidance needed in order to succeed.
Rivers, son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, can play solid defense, but he is a YouTube sensation due to his offensive game. He has step-in-the-gym range, great handles, excellent mid-range shooting abilities and he finishes well at the rim.
Many high school stars have had a tough time adjusting to collegiate play, but Rivers is very mature, both as a person and as a player. There is no reason to believe he won't have great success at Duke.
Just how great?
Personally, I believe that he is capable of accomplishing these 10 tasks in the 2011-12 season. And when you see him play in a Duke uniform for the first time, you will too.
Austin Rivers Will Be Named MVP of the EA Sports Maui Invitational Tournament
The EA Sports Maui Invitational is probably the most prestigious preseason tournament in all of college hoops. The Duke Blue Devils, along with other powerhouses such as Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis and UCLA, will compete in the Hawaiian tournament.
To start the season off with a bang and show the nation what he is capable of, Austin Rivers will lead the Blue Devils in scoring en route to a Maui Invitational title and MVP.
Duke will be nationally televised on ESPN in these early games, so college basketball fans across the nation will get an idea of just how talented Rivers is.
Austin Rivers Will Score 40 Points in a Non-Conference Game
While Duke's 2011-12 schedule has not yet been released, there will probably be a few cupcakes on the calendar.
There is no reason to think that Austin Rivers, who averaged 28.8 points per game as a senior at Winter Park High School, can't put up a 40-piece on a weak opponent.
Furthermore, Rivers has shown that he is capable of putting up big numbers against elite opponents. He set a United States record for points in a FIBA U18 tournament with 35 points against Canada. He also dropped 41 points on Brandon Knight as just a junior.
With that being said, no opponent is really ever safe from the offensive repertoire of Rivers.
Austin Rivers Will Break Duke's Single Game Record for Three-Pointers Made
Duke's record for three-pointers made in a game is nine, set by Shane Battier in 2000 against Princeton.
I don't doubt that Austin Rivers will reach at least 10 three-pointers made in a game this season. Against Canada in his 35-point performance, he connected on nine three-pointers on just 12 attempts.
If Coach K gives him the green light and he puts up close to 20 attempts, he is more than capable of reaching double-digit makes.
Austin Rivers Will Break Duke's Single Season Record for Three-Pointers Made
Breaking Duke's record for three-pointers made in a single season will be no easy task for Austin Rivers: Jason Williams holds that record with a staggering 132.
If Duke makes a deep tournament run and plays, let's say, 37 games, Rivers will need to average 3.6 three-pointers made per game to break Williams's record. This seems a little unfathomable right now, but once you see the kid shoot, you'll start believing.
With just a few games with six or seven threes, Rivers will be on his way to breaking this Duke record, which has stood since 2001.
Austin Rivers Will Lead Duke in Scoring
Saying goodbye to Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and Kyrie Irving will be tough to do for Duke fans, but Austin Rivers will make this more bearable.
Ever since his sophomore season in high school, Rivers has led his team in scoring. He is used to having the rock in his hands, and won't ever shy away from shooting.
Duke isn't returning any double-digit scorers from last season, as the three aforementioned Blue Devils were the only ones to do so.
Thus, leading Coach K's squad in scoring will be almost second-nature for Rivers.
Austin Rivers Will Be Named ACC Rookie of the Year
The ACC, as usual, will have a bunch of incredibly talented freshmen in 2011-12.
North Carolina is bringing in James McAdoo and P.J. Hairston, but the Tar Heels have so much talent that it is unlikely either one of these two will contend for ACC Rookie of the Year honors.
Austin Rivers's main competition could be Dorian Finney-Smith, a Virginia Tech signee. Smith is an incredibly complete player and is capable of leading the Hokies in both scoring and rebounding.
Despite this, Rivers is flat-out the most talented freshman in the ACC, and his team needs him the most. He will add the ACC Rookie of the Year trophy to his hardware collection at the end of the season.
Austin Rivers Will Be Named to the All-ACC First Team
The ACC is losing six of its top seven scoring guards, along with all three guards who were named to the 2010-11 All-ACC First Team, so Austin Rivers will fill the void.
Nolan Smith, Malcolm Delaney and Reggie Jackson are heading to the NBA, so Rivers will probably be the most talented guard in the ACC. As long as he avoids unforeseen difficulties, he will have an incredible season.
Making the All-ACC First Team as a freshman is no easy task, as Harrison Barnes was unable to do so last season. Rivers, however, will prove me right and make the squad.
Austin Rivers Will Lead Duke to a 30-Win Season
Duke figures to be a top-10 squad next season, but its roster isn't exactly cut out to be one of Coach K's 30-win teams. A superstar, however, can change everything.
That is exactly what Austin Rivers will do.
In close games, Rivers will come through clutch for the Blue Devils and help them win. Also, in seemingly-even matchups, he is capable of dominating from tip-off and swaying the game in Duke's favor.
By the end of the season, these wins will all add up, and Duke will finish with at least 30 victories.
Austin Rivers Will Lead Duke to an ACC Tournament Championship
Leading Duke to the ACC Tourney crown will be no easy task, as North Carolina will be absolutely loaded next season.
Assuming that UNC and Duke will be the first and second seeds in the tournament, respectively, and aren't upset in early rounds, the two will meet in the finals.
UNC will probably be firmly put as a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament, regardless of outcome in this matchup, but Duke will be fighting for seeding. With a win, Duke could move up in positioning for a one-, two- or three-seed.
Austin Rivers will know this, and put the team on his back. Expect him to tear through the ACC tournament en route to the ACC title and tournament MVP honors.
Austin Rivers Will Lead Duke to the NCAA Title
When do freshmen ever lead their teams to the NCAA Title?
Kevin Durant was phenomenal, yet he couldn't lead Texas past the first weekend of action. It took two super-freshmen in Greg Oden and Mike Conley to lead Ohio State to the Final Four, where the Buckeyes bowed out to Florida.
Duke and Austin Rivers will be different. Coach K has such a strong winning tradition that his players will be just as ready as anyone else when March comes around. Kemba Walker and Jim Calhoun showed this past season that a great guard and an elite coach can team up to do special things.
With nearly six months of experience under his belt when March rolls around, Rivers will be primed to lead the Blue Devils to an NCAA Championship. This will be a daunting task, but he and his Duke teammates will be up to the challenge.
The only negative in this scenario is that Rivers could easily leave Duke for the NBA, having accomplished nearly all that he could in just one year at Durham.
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