The son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers, Duke guard Austin Rivers, was drafted 10th overall by New Orleans in Thursday’s NBA Draft.
Rivers will join top pick Anthony Davis with the Hornets, who are coached by Monty Williams, one of Doc’s closest friends in the business.
“It’s amazing,” Austin told ESPN Radio after he got picked. “I’ve been dreaming of this day since I was 6 years old, watching my dad do it. To finally be here, that’s the best feeling of my life. It was the longest 45-to-50 minutes of my life waiting, but it’s all worth it. I feel so happy now.”
Rivers, who became just the third one-and-done player in Duke history, led the Blue Devils in scoring last season, the first freshman to do so since Johnny Dawkins in 1983. But his tenure in Durham, N.C. ended in bitter fashion to the tune of a historic 75-70 loss to 15th-seed Lehigh in the NCAA tournament.
His time under coach Mike Krzyzewski was perhaps best defined by a high-arching buzzer-beater over 7-footer Tyler Zeller on Feb. 8 at then-No. 5 North Carolina. Rivers got the best of Zeller again Thursday; the Tar Heels center was still on the board when Rivers took his teal Hornets baseball cap.
Questioned for the on-court mentality some have perceived as unnecessary hubris, Rivers called that mere confidence.
“I think all good players have that,” he said. “I just go out there and try to compete. What people say they’re going to say.”
Now he moves on to bigger territory, giving the Big Easy an inside-out duo of dynamic 19-year-olds.
Pre-draft rumors swirled of the Celtics’ potential interest in drafting Rivers, which would have likely required Boston to deal its 21st and 22nd overall picks. But those proved empty, even though Rivers joked about his father passing on the opportunity to trade up.
“I know, I’m so mad right now,” Austin said with a smile.
So what will happen when Boston and New Orleans meet next season?
“He’s been paying for my dinners my whole life,” Austin said. “Now I have to return the favor.”
Photo by Elsa / Getty Images