Smart Selected to Play in Rising Stars Challenge

Celtics guard Marcus Smart will have the opportunity to participate in All-Star weekend, as it was officially announced Wednesday afternoon that he has been selected to play for the U.S. Team in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge.

The exhibition game, which features rookie and sophomore players in a U.S. Team versus World Team format, will take place on Feb. 12 in Toronto, two days ahead of the NBA All-Star game.

Smart has improved in nearly every statistical category during his second NBA season. He is averaging 9.2 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game, and is tied for second among second-year players with 3.2 assists per game. The 21-year-old ball hawk is also leading all sophomores with 1.7 steals per game.

The only numbers that are down for Smart this season are his shooting statistics. He is shooting 34.9 percent from the field and 22.4 percent from 3-point range, but he also missed more than a month of the season with a lower left leg injury.

Since returning from that injury, Smart’s minutes have gradually been on the rise and, as a result, he has seen an increase of statistical production.

During the last five games, from Jan. 18 to Jan. 25, Smart averaged 12.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.2 APG and 2.0 SPG. He also shot 46.2 percent from the field during that span, including a 31.8 percent clip from 3-point range.

Smart posted his first career triple-double on Jan. 15 against Phoenix, tallying career-highs in assists (11) and rebounds (11), to go along with 10 points. Two months earlier, he notched a career-high with 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting in Oklahoma City, while helping to limit five-time All-Star guard Russell Westbrook to a 5-of-20 performance from the field on the other end of the floor.

Other sophomore guards joining Smart on the U.S. Team will be Jordan Clarkson of the Lakers, Rodney Hood of the Jazz, Zach LaVine of the Timberwolves and Elfrid Payton of the Magic.

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