Kyrie Irving is one of the most popular guards today. His off-court controversies have certainly boosted his infamy. But for NBA diehards, his scoring prowess and dazzling dribbling skills are still the first things they think about when mentioning Kyrie's name. However, there was a time when Irving was considered a nobody — even within basketball circles. Austin Rivers was present at the precise moment Irving became one of the best prospects in the nation from a mere nobody.
Rivers recalled participating in a Deron Williams Skills Academy camp reserved for the top high school players of the nation. The likes of Brandon Knight, Dion Waiters, and John Wall were in attendance. They all were flustered when an unknown player entered the gym.
"He was unknown. No one knew who Kyrie was until the end of his junior or senior year. He wasn't ranked," Rivers said.
Since the camp was being held in New Jersey, Rivers assumed the organizers thought it would be nice to chuck a hometown kid in. Rivers recalled Irving might have been a replacement for a camper who couldn't attend camp that day. But Rivers quickly found out that Irving wasn't just a random baller. The New Jersey native could ball.
"He comes into camp and I'm not going to say names. But I remember guys saying, 'Who the f*** is this guy? Why is he here?' 'Cause there's only like 20 of us. It was a very intimate camp. So we do 1-on-1 drills… Sam, he starts wearing out everybody. Everybody was like 'Who the f***?' Mind you, we never heard of... I've never heard of this guy's name. I'm like 'Who the hell is this dude?'" Rivers said.
Rivers wasn't the only one with a handful of questions about this mysterious guard. Deron Williams was stunned that this unranked player was mopping the floor with the top high school players in the nation. And so the Jazz star joined the drill to find out who Kyrie Irving was.
"So Deron Williams hops in the game. Mind you, this is his camp. He was an All-Star at that time. Kyrie's like... they're going back and forth. Kyrie is like, he's hitting him with some s***," Rivers said.
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After that camp, Irving's name was written all over the basketball map. He immediately became one of the top high school prospects. Irving committed to Duke for the 2010-11 season. Interestingly, Rivers also committed to Duke for the 2011-12 season. If Irving had stayed for just one more year, the two would've been teammates. But Irving was already deemed NBA-ready then.
Maybe in the future, a video clip of that infamous camp will resurface. It would be the perfect reel to attach alongside the time Irving ran circles around Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, or pretty much the best players in basketball history. Note that Irving was just a rookie then. The man has always been ready for the big stage.