Noel, Okafor to Play in Rising Stars Challenge During All-Star Weekend

by Brian Seltzer Reporter
PHILADELPHIA, PA. – JANUARY 27, 2016 – The NBA today announced the list of participants for the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge and Sixers Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor were both selected to participate on the US team.  It marks the third time in team history that Philadelphia has had multiple representatives selected to the event (three players in 2015 and two in 2005). 
“On behalf of the entire Sixers organization, we are proud that Nerlens and Jahlil were recognized for their talent, hard work and commitment to their craft. This is a recognition both for them and their families, who have sacrificed and supported Nerlens and Jahlil during every step of their basketball journeys,” said Sixers President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Sam Hinkie.
“This is another significant accomplishment in their young careers, and we truly hope that Nerlens and Jahlil will enjoy the opportunities and experiences that All-Star Weekend has to offer as representatives of the Sixers.”
The game will take place at Air Canada Centre on Feb. 12 at 9 p.m. ET as part of NBA All-Star 2016 in Toronto and will be televised by TNT.
Noel, who was also selected to last year’s Rising Stars Challenge, is averaging 10.5 points, a team-leading 8.3 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.6 steals per game this season. Per Basketball-Reference, the only other player since at least 1983-84 to hold averages in points, rebounds, steals and blocks as high as Noel through 115 career games was David Robinson (1989-91). He is just the second Sixers player since at least 1983-84 with at least 200 blocks in his first 115 career games, joining Shawn Bradley who blocked 344 in the same span from 1993-95 (Basketball-Reference). 
Okafor is averaging a team-leading 17.4 points per game, in addition to 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. The third overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, Okafor has scored at least 20 points in 18 of his first 41 career games, leading all rookies in that category. He is the first center to score at least 712 points through his first 41 games since Orlando’s Shaquille O’Neal (967) and Charlotte’s Alonzo Mourning (768) each did so in 1992-93 (per Basketball-Reference).  Okafor leads all rookies in points per game (17.4) and minutes per game (30.8).
The 2016 BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge will feature a team consisting of first- and second-year players from the United States (U.S. team) against a team consisting of international first- and second-year players (World team).
League assistant coaches selected 10 U.S. Players and 10 international players for the game, with one ballot for each of the NBA’s 30 teams.  Both 10-man rosters include four guards, four frontcourt players and two additional players regardless of position.  Each team features a minimum of three first-year players and three second-year players.

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