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Could Austin Rivers be another possibility for 2011?


by Alan Smith

Not only have the classes of 2009 and 2010 looked good for John Calipari and Kentucky, but the 2011 class is on pace to top both of them. So far, the Cats have signed the top overall player in SF Michael Gilchrist and have also nabbed the second-best player in SG Marquis Teague from Rick Pitino’s hands. Players such as Quincy Miller, Tony Wroten Jr., and Michael Chandler, all Top 10 players, have also expressed interest in playing for Kentucky in 2011. To add these players to the group of returning players makes this UK team the team to beat in 2011-2012. One Top 10 player missing from here, though, is Austin Rivers.

Rivers had been committed to Florida for some time before decommitting after Duke won the National Championship. It appeared that he had never been fully committed to Florida, as Coach Kryzewski and Rivers openly flirted for a 6-8 month period. In an open interview with Fox Sports’ Jeff Goodman, Rivers speaks on his recruitment with Florida and how he ended up looking at other schools again. “It was tough for a while because I was committed to Florida, but I wasn’t completely committed – and I knew that. I wanted to look at other schools, but I have so much respect for Coach (Billy) Donovan and the program that I felt it was wrong to do that.” He still says that he has interest in Florida, but is also considering Duke and North Carolina.

But he doesn’t not rule out the option for playing at UK. “I’m also looking at Kansas. They’ve gotten in the picture lately and have been talking to my coaches. I might also look at Kentucky with the success that (John) Calipari has had with his players.” On more than one occasion he had mentioned he had no interest in playing for Coach Calipari or Kentucky, although he respected them. It seems he has had a change of heart lately, and the addition of Rivers would only make the situation better for 2011-12. He is a big time scorer at the SG postition, but has also expressed interest in being a combo guard and playing PG also. Rivers’ played on the same AAU team (Team STAT) as current Kentucky commit Brandon Knight and both shared the backcourt. Both players also played head-to-head in a high school matchup in February, with Rivers taking 48 points and a win over Knight’s 41 points. With the two looking to have a good relationship, it is very possible we could see both in the backcourt at UK next season.

At the other end of the spectrum, though, UK might have an Austin Rivers-like situation on their hands. OK, maybe that’s a little too premature, but PF Quincy Miller is looking to be a battle between UK and Duke for his services. UK has had the upper hand in his recruitment and he is UK’s to lose. But he attends school near Duke and has also shown more interest in Duke lately. This will be one recruit to keep your eye on, as he will be a valuable piece of UK’s 2011 class.

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