Suns Morris to Named BBVA Rising Stars Game
Phoenix Suns rookie forward Markieff Morris has been selected along with eight other first-year NBA players to take part in the 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 24, at 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend in Orlando, Fla.
A 6-10, 245-pound forward, Morris was the 13th overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Suns, and becomes the seventh player in franchise history to participate in this All-Star Weekend event, joining Wesley Person (1995), Trevor Ruffin (1995), Michael Finley (1996), Steve Nash (1997), Shawn Marion (2001) and Amar’e Stoudemire (2003).
Morris earns the honor after averaging 7.2 points, and an NBA rookie-best 5.0 rebounds in 20.6 minutes while appearing in all 25 of the Suns’ games this season. In addition to rebounding, the versatile power forward also leads all rookies in three-point percentage (.460), seventh-best in the NBA overall, and ranks eighth among first-year players in scoring. Morris is one of seven rookies who have recorded a double-double this season.
It is fitting that Morris is the first Sun since Stoudemire to earn a Rising Stars selection because the former University of Kansas standout is having the best statistical season by a Phoenix rookie since Stoudemire. Morris is averaging the most points and the most rebounds by a Suns rookie since Stoudemire in 2002-03, and is nearly one of only nine first-year players in franchise history to average at least eight points and five rebounds.
Joining Morris on the team are fellow rookies Kyrie Irving (1st overall selection, 2011 NBA Draft), Ricky Rubio (5th, 2009), MarShon Brooks (25th, 2011), Brandon Knight (8th, 2011), Kawhi Leonard (15th, 2011), Tristan Thompson (4th, 2011), Kemba Walker (9th, 2011) and Derrick Williams (2nd, 2011).
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.