It’s official – Duke standout freshman shooting guard Austin Rivers will enter the 2012 NBA draft.
Rivers, who averaged a team-leading 15.5 points per game for Duke and was a unanimous selection as the Atlantic Coast Conference’s rookie of the year, announced his decision and plans to hire an agent on Monday after spending the weekend discussing his future plans with his family at their home outside Orlando, Fla.
“Duke has prepared me for the challenges that are ahead both on and off the court,” Rivers said in a statement issued by the school. “I have learned so much from the coaching staff and my teammates that will help me succeed at the next level.”
And although he is losing an offensive juggernaut in Rivers, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski had nothing but kind words to say of Austin’s decision to forgo his sophomore season.
“Austin 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 Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “We are in total support of Austin, his family and his decision.”
ESPN points out that Rivers is the fourth player to leave Duke after one season and the second in two years, after Cleveland made Kyrie Irving the No. 1 overall pick of last year’s draft.
The others are Corey Maggette (currently with the Charlotte Bobcats) in 1999 and Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls) in 2004.
According to NBADraft.net’s most recent mock draft, Austin, the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, is expected to go within the top 15 picks, specifically 12th. The top highlight of his only college season was a buzzer-beating 3-pointer last month that gave Duke an 85-84 victory at North Carolina.
Watch Rivers’ game winner vs North Carolina below:
ESPN’s Andy Katz discusses Austin Rivers’ decision to enter the 2012 NBA draft in the video below: