Mixed reviews by draft analysts suggest Austin Rivers may not be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft.
But the ever-confident former Winter Park standout told the Sentinel in a Tuesday afternoon phone interview he plans to be on that elite list of the first 14 selections by the June 28 draft.
"Obviously, that would be great," said Rivers, who announced his intentions to leave Duke after one season Monday. "I have a really good chance of doing that. I just have to keep working."
DraftExpress.com ranks Rivers, a 6-foot-4 guard, No. 9 among freshmen and projects him to be picked No. 17 by the Denver Nuggets in a mock draft dated March 23. He is behind four guards: No. 5 Bradley Beal (freshman, UF), No. 12 Jeremy Lamb (sophomore, UConn), No. 13 Damian Lillard (Jr., Weber State) and No. 14 Kendall Marshall (Soph., North Carolina).
As of Tuesday, NBAdraft.net had Rivers going No. 10 to Milwaukee, behind Lamb (No. 6) and Beal (No. 8), but ahead of Lillard and Marshall.
"I'm projected in a pretty good place right now, and I'm going to work hard and continue to get better," Rivers said. "People do great workouts and things change.
"At the end of the day, it's the general managers' and the scouts' opinion on you and what teams need, what they're looking for."
The inevitable question, and Rivers has already heard it a lot, is about the likelihood that he goes to the Boston Celtics, the franchise his father, Doc, coaches.
"I love my dad, but that doesn't matter to me," Rivers said. "Just being in the NBA, period, would be great. That's up to the teams, not me. Wherever I go, I'm going to work as hard as I can and do everything I can to help the team immediately."
Rivers said he felt all along he would be ready to make the jump after one college season, but he resisted the temptation to think a lot about the NBA.
"One thing I think I did really well this year was never think about that,'' he said. "I just focused on helping my team win and getting better. Good things happen when you do that.
"I've worked harder than ever this year. The coaches at Duke really helped me get better."
Rivers said he has not selected an agent.
"That will happen in the next few weeks,'' he said. "I'll spend my time with my family, work out decisions like that and do a lot of individual workouts. I'll probably spend some time in Boston with my dad. I'll work out there but not with his guys. There are people I know in a lot of places who I can work with."
Rivers was selected the national high school Player of the Year as a Winter Park senior in 2010-11, then averaged a team-leading 15.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game for the Blue Devils. He was the first Duke freshman to earn All-America honors (third team by the National Association of Basketball Coaches) and was a first-team All-ACC pick.
The Blue Devils (27-7) were a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament but were upset by 15th-seeded Lehigh 75-70. Rivers had 19 points and four rebounds in the defeat.
Under a new NCAA rule, underclassmen who declare for the draft have only until April 10 to change their mind and remain in college basketball.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times