Paul George named as participant for Rising Stars Challenge

Feb. 8, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Pacers announced Wednesday that second-year player Paul George has been named as a participant in the 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge to be held on Friday, Feb. 24 in Orlando during NBA All-Star 2012.

“I appreciate the recognition, but I think this is a result of what our team is doing this year,” said George. “I also think it’s great for the Pacers franchise to be represented and I hope some teammates will be joining me in Orlando as members of the All-Star team.”

Joining George from the Sophomore class are: DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), Landry Fields (New York Knicks), Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz), Greg Monroe (Detroit Pistons), Tiago Splitter (San Antonio Spurs), Evan Turner (Philadelphia 76ers), and John Wall (Washington Wizards).

"I'm really excited for Paul,” said Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel. “He has completely earned this honor with tremendous work ethic, a commitment to improve and a refreshing approach to the game. It's great to see a young, talented player like him be as coachable as he is. He truly is a rising star both offensively and defensively."

Participants from the Rookie Class include: Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves), 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.

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 will make live audio available to fans in multiple languages. NBA games are broadcast to 215 countries and territories in more than 40 languages.