Austin Rivers’s defining moment as a college player at Duke came in early February following his three-pointer at the buzzer to beat North Carolina, 85-84, in Chapel Hill, a shot that underscored the 6-foot-4 guard’s flair for the dramatic and his belief in his abilities.
During his pre-draft workout for the Washington Wizards on Friday, which also included guards Terrence Ross (University of Washington) and Tomas Satoransky (Czech Republic), Rivers was asked to shoot repeatedly while fatigued, and the outcome was not exactly to his liking.
Near the end of a workout that lasted about 90 minutes, Rivers performed what’s called the “Seven Drill,” which requires a player to make seven shots. If he makes seven in a row, the drill ends, but each time he misses, another shot is added to the total shots remaining to complete the drill.
“Let’s make seven in a row,” Wizards Coach Randy Wittman said before handing the ball to Rivers.
After several minutes of failing to complete the task, Rivers had nine shots left to make. Wittman cut the drill short, and Rivers finished hitting 14 of 25 field goals.
“I’ve done that drill before,” Rivers said, “so when I made that first one, I was like, ‘All right, I’m going to make seven in a row.’ Then once you get to nine, you start getting into trouble. ‘Oh Lord this isn’t good.’”
Wittman “was like, ‘Make six,’ and I made six, and I got out of there. If I do that [drill] again, hopefully I don’t have to do all that.”
Rivers is an early entry candidate for the NBA draft who spent one season with the Blue Devils. He became the seventh freshman to be named to the all-ACC first team and ranks in the top five all-time at Duke among freshmen in points, free throws and three-pointers.
He also has a keen awareness of exactly how the pre-draft process will unfold, thanks to his father, Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers. Rivers has prepared his son for the next level with on-court instruction and lessons on how to carry himself in front of television cameras and microphones.
“Everytime you step on the floor, you should feel like you’re the best one out there, whether it’s true or not,” Rivers said. “You should always feel like that. That way you can play better and have more confidence in yourself and give confidence to your teammates as well.”