Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff made the kind of splash in the recruiting world they have been hoping to make Wednesday night, as coveted 2011 five-star combo guard Austin Rivers announced his decision to offer his verbal pledge to the Blue Devils.
Rivers' decision to take his game to Duke University comes just two days before he was scheduled to begin his official visit tour that included trips to North Carolina, Duke and Kansas. Though Rivers has been considered a heavy Duke lean for some time now, his recent in-home visit with the Blue Devils staff essentially sealed his decision to head north from Winter Park, Fla. in the fall of '11.
The senior guard, who rates as the nation's No. 1 overall player in his class, said the decision to announce before his visits and climb aboard with Duke was not an easy choice, however, he knew in his heart that Duke was the best place for him.
"I've always thought about Duke, and Duke has always been the one I liked the most since I de-committed from Florida," Rivers told Devils Illustrated Thursday afternoon. "I have the best relationship with the Duke coaches, and it felt right about everything. There's no better fit for me. I've just had strong feelings for Duke for a long time.
"The coaches were ecstatic, happy and just proud of the decision. I'm excited about it. I'm a Blue Devil now and it's great."
Rivers spoke with his father, Doc Rivers, and AAU coach, Therion Joseph, about his visit with Duke coaches and where his recruitment stood. After a long discussion, he, his family and coach decided that Duke was the perfect fit.
"I just told my dad how I felt, and he supports me and always has my back," he said. "I talked to him and my AAU coach and they agreed with me about why Duke was the best fit for me. They back me in the decision.
"The in-home was a big player in it. I had the chance to sit down face to face with them and my family and it made me even more comfortable with the decision to choose Duke. I liked Duke before, I love them now and like I said, I'm a Blue Devil. I'm ready to get started."
Once his decision was made, Rivers said the difficult part was reaching out to Roy Williams and Bill Self informing them of his decision. On the flipside of the coin, Krzyzewski was more than excited to have Rivers on board.
"I talked to all of the coaches, and they are all three (Krzyzewski, Williams and Self) great coaches, but Duke presented the best opportunity. I just felt like it was the school for me and there was no reason for me to go on the visits. There was no need to wait."
Rivers will be back in Durham on Oct. 15 for his scheduled official visit. His trip will take place during Countdown to Craziness, Duke's event that opens up practice for the 2010-11 season.
"Yeah, I'm still scheduled to be down on Oct. 15 for Countdown to Craziness," he said. "I'm really excited to get back up there."
While Rivers' decision is less than one day old, the senior has already had phone calls from the likes of Kyrie Irving and Jason Williams. Both calls came in while he was in class Thursday, but he said he looked forward to speaking with both of them.
Rivers also said he is excited about enjoying the rest of his senior year, and working on some other recruits to join him at Duke.
"I'm going to try to get some guys with me," Rivers stated. "I don't know who yet, but it would be great to add some other guys. There's a good chance I'll get somebody."