Solid Blue NBA All-Star Connections

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall are headed back to the NBA All-Star Game. The two former Kentucky men’s basketball stars will join the league’s players on Feb. 19 in New Orleans for the league’s annual showcase of talent.

Anthony Davis, who led Kentucky to the 2012 national championship, was already voted in as a starter for the Western Conference. Wall (Washington Wizards) will suit up for the Eastern Conference while Cousins (Sacramento Kings) will join Davis (New Orleans Pelicans) on the Western Conference squad. No other college has more than two representatives.

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The NBA All-Star Game will take place at the Smoothie King Center in front of Davis’ home crowd in New Orleans. TNT will telecast the game.

Unlike the starters, who were voted in by the fans, players and media members, the NBA All-Star reserves were voted in exclusively by the league’s coaches.

Wall will be making his fourth appearance in the game while Cousins will make his third.

Cousins’ All-Star appearance will be his third straight. He’s currently among the league leaders in scoring (28.0 points per game), rebounding (10.2 rpg) and double-doubles (25). As he’s moved past a number of franchise milestones this season, including passing Chris Webber for the most double-doubles in the Sacramento era, Cousins has 11 games of 30 or more points this season. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he has more 30-point, 15-rebound games over the last five seasons than any other player in the NBA.

Wall is currently averaging 23.1 points, 10.1 assists (third in the NBA), 4.6 rebounds and 2.2 steals (second in the NBA) with 26 double-doubles. In December, he was named the NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month, and he owns an Eastern Conference-best 25 games of 10-plus assists this season. Earlier this season he set the new franchise record for total assists and total steals.

But NBA All-Star weekend won’t just be relegated to three Wildcats; several others will be joining them.

On Wednesday, the NBA announced the rosters for the annual Rising Stars Challenge, which features four former Kentucky men’s basketball players across the two 10-man rosters: Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Trey Lyles (Utah Jazz), Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets) and Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves).

The Rising Stars Challenge highlights the league’s best first- and second-year players. The U.S. Team will take on the World Team on Feb. 17 at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.

Towns, who is third in the league in double-doubles, has done nothing but build off his 2016 Rookie of the Year season with another tremendous year. He is one of two NBA players averaging at least 22.0 points and 11.0 rebounds this season (Davis is the other). Towns will be joined on the U.S. team by Booker, who is averaging 20.6 points per game and has scored at least 20 in each of the last 10 games. Recently he became the youngest player in NBA history to record three 39-point games.

Lyles and Murray will compete for the World team as both represent Canada in international competition. Lyles is in his second season in the NBA, averaging 8.0 points and 3.9 rebounds for the Jazz, who are in the hunt for a playoff spot. Murray is posting 8.0 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists in his rookie season.

Additional Wildcats could still be a part of NBA All-Star weekend. Recent NBA All-Star festivities have featured former UK players in the Skills Challenge, the Slam Dunk Contest and the Three-Point Challenge.

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Alex Risen joined the ABC 36 News team in October of 2011 as ABC 36’s Weekend Sports Anchor/ Sports Reporter. Alex can also be seen Friday nights co-anchoring the Highschool Highlight Reel. Alex started out in the broadcast business while still in college at the University of Kentucky, heading up the school’s daily student news network as the Sports Director. He made his commercial televsion debut in May of 2011 while at WYMT in Hazard, Kentucky as co-host of a weekly, half-hour high school sports program previewing area schools’ games on Friday nights and as a morning sports anchor. Alex has also spent time as an intern at ESPN in the Statistics and Analysis department, as a production assistant for NBC Sports horse racing and Sunday Night Football productions, and as an intern for WLKY in his hometown of Louisville, KY. Alex graduated from Saint Xavier High School in 2007 and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Kentucky in 2010 where he graduated magna cum laude from the Honors Program. He’s excited to be covering his passion in his home state and make Central Kentucky his home for years to come. Alex can be reached at ARisen@wtvq.com