Rivers likes his options
For the Potomac News
& Manassas Journal Messenger
Not everyone can play in the National Basketball Association, and Sherman Rivers fits into that category.
But the Potomac High School graduate still dreams of playing hoops at the pro level.
“I hope to maybe play overseas, or maybe coach,” said Rivers, 21, who finished his four-year collegiate career last Friday night as William & Mary lost to Hofstra in the first round of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament at Richmond Coliseum.
“If I can continue to play basketball, that is really what I want to do,” he said.
“He will have an opportunity,” said George Mason assistant coach Bill Courtney, who played pro ball in Asia. “It probably depends on what level. Sherman is a great ballhandler.”
But not everyone is willing to go overseas, especially in light of current world events. Again, that is not a roadblock for the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Rivers.
“I have been traveling all of my life,” said Rivers, who was born in Colorado Springs.
Rivers’ father, also named Sherman, is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. The younger Rivers lived in Germany between the ages of three and five, and also called Colorado, Kentucky and Missouri home before he moved to Virginia when he was 13.
He was a scoring standout at Potomac High, where he was a four-year letterman for coach Kendall Hayes. Rivers ended his prep career as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,193 points, and he was The Potomac News Player of the Year for the 1998-99 season.
Rivers scored a team-high 17 points with five assists in his final college game, a 74-64 loss to Hofstra. At the final buzzer he walked slowly, with his hands on his hips, as the last William & Mary player to leave the court.
“It was tough. I was hoping to get some wins in the tournament,” said Rivers, who played in all 113 games in his college career but never won a postseason game in four tries.
Rivers hit three 3-pointers in the first half Friday, and every basket put the Tribe in the lead. But he was held to one field goal and seven points in the second half.
“I had some open looks in the first half,” Rivers said after the Hofstra game. “They had some breakdowns in the first half. In the second half, they fixed that.”
Rivers finished his college career with 925 points and 272 assists. This season, he averaged 9.4 points per game and led the team in assists with 71 and steals with 34.
Rivers was recruited by Virginia Tech out of high school, but has no second thoughts on his decision to attend the Williamsburg school. The Tribe beat Virginia Tech each of the past two seasons.
“I can’t complain. I got to play college basketball,” said Rivers, who is on track to graduate in May with a degree in sociology. “Not a lot of people get to do that.”
Rivers was recruited to the Tribe by the staff of Charlie Woollum, who resigned after the 1999-2000 season. Former Boston College assistant Rick Boyages has been his head coach the past three years.
“It was kind of an adjustment. He asked different things of me when he came in,” Rivers said. “He asks for a lot out of you.”
“He has never been a great shooter,” Boyages said of Rivers late this season. “He is probably our best athlete. He is probably our best defender. His strength is getting into the lane and getting to the basket.
“He is a gamer. He is not an all-conference player, but he is a competitor,” Boyages added. “He had to adjust his game since I’ve been here. He is always a pleasure to coach.”
The contacts that Boyages has overseas may pay dividends for Rivers. Boyages has conducted coaching clinics in Greece and been a visiting coach with the Czech Basketball Federation.
“If I can continue to play basketball, that is really what I want to do,” Rivers said.