When Austin Rivers faces you with a basketball in his hand, you’re in trouble. You are at his mercy. He has an NBA-ready repertoire of moves at his disposal, and chances are you can’t stop any one of them.
Jab step right, stepback jumper, three points. Hard dribble right, crossover to the left, finish at the rim with authority. Hesitation dribble left, blow by defender, finesse layup over an opposing big man. Triple threat position, sweep through, explosive first step, stop on a dime, pullup jumper.
Whatever move you can think of, Austin Rivers can execute it. He’s the most polished high school player in the country, and he has ESPN’s number one ranking to prove it.
Rivers always could dominate on the offensive end, but he has surpassed his peers based on an ability to lead his team to a comeback win, like he did in the AAU Super Showcase finals. He also won a gold medal and set a U.S. record with 35 points in a FIBA U-18 event against Team Canada.
He is the most-skilled offensive player in the country thanks to his array of moves, highlighted by his lethal crossover, and killer instinct. Rivers can get to the rim, put up a floater over bigger defenders, hit pull-up jumpers, score off pick-and-rolls and shoot long 3-pointers. Plus, he can deliver a good pass when under duress. He consistently put up 30-plus points this summer, despite teams keying on him. In one-on-one situations, the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers can get his shot on anyone and has come to embrace the bull’s-eye on his back.
I don’t exaggerate when I say that Austin Rivers has it all. Handle, explosiveness, a deadly outside shot, poise. The kid’s an absolute stud, someone who one of his his peers (Jahii Carson) says “just comes out and dominates every time.”
I watched Austin play a high school game last year, and he’s nothing short of electric. He had the entire crowd abuzz while he dominated an unworthy opponent, an opponent who was talented enough to be headed to Duke this season but still didn’t look like he belonged on the same court as Austin Rivers. When Doc was asked after the game about his son’s devastating performance, he replied something like, “Oh, that? Nothing special. He does that every night.”
He does it every night. You just better hope you aren’t guarding him when he does.