NEW YORK Reigning Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft, and Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Ricky Rubio, who ranks third overall in assists, lead a list of 18 players selected for the 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge to be held on Friday, Feb. 24, in Orlando during NBA All-Star 2012.
Joining Griffin from the Sophomore class are: DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), Landry Fields (New York Knicks), Paul George (Indiana Pacers), Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz), Greg Monroe (Detroit Pistons), Tiago Splitter (San Antonio Spurs), Evan Turner (Philadelphia 76ers), and John Wall (Washington Wizards).
Irving and Rubio are joined by fellow first-year players MarShon Brooks (New Jersey Nets), Brandon Knight (Detroit Pistons), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs), Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats), and Derrick Williams (Minnesota Timberwolves).
The participants in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge were selected by the NBA’s assistant coaches, with each team submitting one ballot.
This year, a new format is being implemented to a game that has historically featured NBA rookies facing off against sophomores. For the first time, rookies and sophomores will be mixed together on teams. TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal will serve as the general managers of the two opposing teams – TEAM CHUCK and TEAM SHAQ – each with nine man rosters, drafted from the aforementioned pool. TNT’s Kenny Smith will serve as the honorary Commissioner and Ernie Johnson will host the live BBVA Rising Stars Challenge Draft on Thursday, Feb. 16, on NBA TV at 7 p.m. ET.
Last year in Los Angeles, the Rookies won for the second consecutive year, 148-140. Wall earned MVP honors after recording a record 22 assists, five more than Chris Paul managed in 2007.
TNT Analysts Mike Fratello and Steve Kerr will be part of the coaching staffs for the teams, with Fratello joining TEAM CHUCK and Kerr joining TEAM SHAQ. The Head Coaches for both teams will be the lead assistant coaches from the 2012 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs. The East and West coaching staffs will be determined by the best record in each conference through games played Feb. 15.
The BBVA Rising Stars Challenge will be televised live nationally on TNT at 9 p.m. ET and also will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio, while NBA.com will make live audio available to fans in multiple languages. NBA games are broadcast to 215 countries and territories in more than 40 languages.
Tickets to the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge are available for $35 for the upper bowl and $50 for the lower bowl; fans can visit NBA.com/allstar2012 to purchase them.