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Duke's Rivers enters NBA Draft early

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DURHAM, N.C. (AP)

Austin Rivers is leaving Duke after one season for the NBA draft.

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The freshman guard announced his decision and plans to hire an agent on Monday after team officials said he spent 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.''

The son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers averaged a team-leading 15.5 points and was a unanimous selection as the Atlantic Coast Conference's rookie of the year. He's just the third Duke freshman to lead the team in scoring after Johnny Dawkins in 1983 and Bill Sapp in 1945.

''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,'' coach Mike Krzyzewski said, adding that he supports the decision. ''We look forward to watching him continue to develop and excel at the next level.''

The top highlight of Rivers' only college season was a buzzer-beating 3-pointer last month that gave Duke an 85-84 victory at North Carolina. He scored a season-high 29 points in that game. Rivers' freshman season ended in disappointing fashion earlier this month when the second-seeded Blue Devils were shocked 75-70 by 15-seed Lehigh in the NCAA Tournament.

He's the fourth player to leave Duke after one season and the second one-and-done guard in two years after Cleveland made Kyrie Irving the No. 1 overall pick of last year's draft. The others are Corey Maggette in 1999 and Luol Deng in 2004.

Doc Rivers, speaking to reporters in Charlotte before the Celtics' game against the Bobcats on Monday night — before his son's decision was made public — said he thought his choice would be a good one no matter what he decided to do.

''Listen, going to the NBA if you're going to get drafted in the first round, that's good,'' Doc Rivers said. ''Going back to Duke, that's good. So I don't know if you have a bad choice.''

Underclassmen have until April 29 to declare for the NBA Draft. The NCAA requires players who have not hired an agent to declare their final intentions by April 10.

Tagged: Duke

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