Duke freshman guard Austin Rivers will enter the 2012 NBA Draft with plans to hire an agent, head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced on Monday. Rivers, the 2012 ACC Rookie of the Year, joins Corey Maggette (1999), Luol Deng (2004) and Kyrie Irving (2011) as Blue Devil freshmen to enter the NBA Draft after just one year of college basketball. The three previous freshmen early entrees were each selected among the first 13 players in their respective drafts, including Irving, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
“Austin [Rivers] had a terrific year as a freshman and has put himself in a position to pursue his dream of being a great player in the NBA,” said Krzyzewski. “He is an outstanding young man with an even more impressive family. We are in total support of Austin, his family and his decision. We look forward to watching him continue to develop and excel at the next level.”
Rivers averaged a team-high 15.5 points per game to join Johnny Dawkins (1983) and Bill Sapp (1945) as the only players to lead the Blue Devils in scoring as freshmen. The Winter Park, Fla., native scored in double-figures 30 times, with eight games with 20 or more points scored. He also averaged 3.4 rebounds, while finishing second on the team in assists (71) and steals (33) and third in three-point field goals (58).
In the Duke freshman record books, Rivers ranks among the all-time leaders in points (3rd – 527), points per game (3rd – 15.5), field goals (6th – 174), three-point field goals (5th – 58), free throws (1st – 121), free throw attempts (1st – 184), games started (t-6th – 33), minutes played (7th – 1,129), double-figure scoring games (t-3rd – 30) and 20-point games (t-5th – eight).
Rivers earned NABC third team All-America honors to become the first freshman in Duke history and the 24th player overall (38 honors) under Coach K to earn All-America accolades. He also became just the seventh freshman in ACC history to collect first team all-conference recognition.
“I would like to thank the coaches, my teammates and the fans for helping make this past year at Duke so special,” said Rivers. “Coach K and the rest of the staff really helped me develop and improve in all areas of the game. It was a difficult decision to leave Duke, but I am excited about chasing my dream of playing in the NBA.”
He had his best scoring performances of the year on the biggest stage on Feb. 8 at North Carolina. Rivers posted a season-high 29 points and nailed a three-point field goal at the buzzer to give the Blue Devils an 85-84 win over the fifth-ranked Tar Heels. He went 9-of-16 from the field, including 6-of-10 from three-point range, and added five rebounds in the victory.
Rivers reached double-figures in each of the final 17 games of the season averaging a team-best 17.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in that span.
“Duke has prepared me for the challenges that are ahead both on and off the court,” added Rivers. “I have learned so much from the coaching staff and my teammates that will help me succeed at the next level.”