Ricky Rubio, Derrick Williams to Represent Wolves <br> in 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge


Minnesota Timberwolves rookies Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams have been selected to play in the 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 24 at the Amway Center in Orlando.

The BBVA Rising Stars Challenge will introduce an exciting new format 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. BBVA, the Official Bank of the NBA, will serve as the title partner of the new event. TNT Analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal will serve as the general managers of two opposing teams, each with nine man rosters, consisting of NBA rookies and sophomores drafted from a pool that was selected by the NBA's assistant coaches, with each team submitting one ballot. Also, 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.

Rubio has been one of the top rookies this season, leading all first-year players in assists (9.1) and steals (2.44) and ranking third in scoring (11.2 ppg). He was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month for January. Rubio is tied for first in the NBA in point/assist double-doubles with 11 and he ranks 12th overall in double-doubles. Overall, he ranks first in the league in steals and third in assists. Rubio has started the past 15 games, averaging 11.7 points, 9.9 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 3.0 steals during this stretch, with the Wolves compiling a 10-5 record.

Rubio has scored a career-high 18 points three times this season and dished out a career-high 14 assists twice. Rubio's six steals vs. Detroit on Jan. 18 were the most by a Wolves player since player since Kevin Garnett had seven vs. the L.A. Clippers on Jan. 27, 2007.

Williams, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, is averaging 7.6 points and 4.0 rebounds and 18.3 minutes in 25 games. Has scored in double figures 10 times in his rookie year – the most by an NBA rookie forward this season and has registered seven games of 10+ points and 6+ rebounds -- tied for the most by an NBA rookie this season. Among rookies, Williams ranks sixth in scoring and seventh in rebounding.

Joining Rubio and Williams in the pool of players are rookies MarShon Brooks (New Jersey), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland), Brandon Knight (Detroit), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio), Markieff Morris (Phoenix), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland) and Kemba Walker (Charlotte), and sophomores DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento), Landry Fields (New York), Paul George (Indiana), Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers), Gordon Hayward (Utah), Greg Monroe (Detroit), Tiago Splitter (San Antonio), Evan Turner (Philadelphia), John Wall (Washington).


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