Duke closing in on Rivers, but doing it right way

By Adam Silverstein
November 3, 2009

Almost exactly one month ago, OGGOA reported on Florida Gators basketball’s prized 2011 commitment, 5-star combo guard Austin Rivers, who was considering other options while making his decision whether or not to join the Orange & Blue in two years. While Rivers said he remained orally committed to the Gators then and holds the same contention now, he has begun to give heavy consideration to the Duke Blue Devils, who have been courting him for some time.

“I still love Florida so much,” Rivers told the Orlando Sentinel. “I fell in love with that campus and that program the minute I saw it. But it doesn’t help recruiting for the Gators at all when people take the words out of my mouth and put it out there that I’m undecided.”

There is much more to this story – read it after the jump…

Doc Rivers, the head coach of the Boston Celtics and father of Austin, said in October that his son was just doing his due diligence. “I just thought he should look [at other schools], just to make sure,’’ Doc said. “But [Florida is] where he wants to go. He’s going to Florida. There’s no doubt about that. He’s committed there. He’s a Florida kid.’’

That statement came after Rivers made an unofficial visit to Duke in September and met with head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Nevertheless, the Gators remain at the top of his list. “I’m still committed to Florida,” Rivers said. “Duke wanted to recruit me, but they wanted to do it the right way out of respect for Florida. It’s two unbelievable programs and I feel fortunate that they both want me. Both have really good coaches, really good programs, really good recruiting. There are a few differences and a lot of similarities.”

Anyone following Florida basketball recruiting should know that the Kentucky Wildcats are surely involved in any major player the Gators go after. That is also the case here. The difference in this situation is that Rivers has no interest in playing for notorious cheater John Calipari. “I’m not feeling Kentucky,” he said. “I have a really good feeling right now about Florida and Duke, but I just don’t’ want to go to Kentucky.”

Respect in recruiting – that’s refreshing. And it should be no surprise that it comes from one of the classiest coaches in the game. And while I’m sure the respect for him is mutual on the part of Billy Donovan, gaining Rivers’ commitment is a must for the Gators.

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