Rivers reflects on stress son is under

Austin was high school phenom like his father, but Celtics coach says pressure much greater now

Glenn "Doc" Rivers was a big deal at Proviso East High School back in the day.

A sturdy and resourceful 6-foot-4, 185-pound guard, Rivers didn't flash the razzle-dazzle of an Isiah Thomas, but he was powerful and able to create his own shots with fundamental savvy and court awareness.

A McDonald's All-American, Rivers earned high regard for his defense, rebounding and scoring.

As the nephew of former NBA star Jim Brewer and cousin of former MLB standout Ken Singleton and NBA guard Byron Irvin, Rivers was a well-known prodigy within informed basketball circles and was among the most highly-recruited players in the country.

Now as the renowned head coach of the Celtics, Rivers has a son who is in the national spotlight as a 6-4 star freshman guard averaging 15 points per game at Duke. Austin Rivers, named the 2011 Naismith Prep Player of the Year, sank a 3-point shot at the buzzer on Feb. 8 to knock off rival North Carolina to send shock waves across the country.

I asked Doc Rivers while he was here to play the Bulls Thursday night to compare the pressure he felt as a young player — moving up the ranks from Proviso East to Marquette to a 13-year NBA playing career — to what Austin is dealing with as the son of a sports celebrity.

"It was far greater (pressure) for him," said Rivers, whose father Grady was a policeman. "You know, we had Chicago eyes. Nationally, when I played … we weren't national players. Now, high school players like Austin and (Simeon High School's) Jabari Parker … the whole world knows who they are … the whole nation at least. And they have to grow up quicker as far as how they handle things. I don't know if that's good or bad. I'm not sure yet."

Austin Rivers led Winter Park (Fla.) High School to back-to-back state championships in 2010 and 2011 and was rated the top college recruit by Rivals.com. He also was rated the top high school player in the country in the ESPNU 100 and by Scout.com.

As an understandably proud parent, Rivers has tried to avoid being overly involved in his son's basketball life, in much the same way he attempted to avoid a sixth foul in the NBA.

"I've been great. I stay out of it," Rivers said. "I give him advice about humility. Other than that … go play basketball. The coaches will coach you and I'll be your parent."

Austin Rivers grew up around basketball his entire life and thrived on the experiences of his family members.

"I think that has helped him; he has been around," Rivers said. "His brother, Jeremiah, played in front of him (at Georgetown before transferring to Indiana). Obviously, I coached and played. That, in no way hurt him, that's for sure."

fmitchell@tribune.com

Twitter @kicker34

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