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Countdown Begins To All-Star Weekend

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Filed under All-Star Weekend, Big Post.

Countdown Begins To All-Star Weekend

Find out who will be teamed up with DeMarcus at the Rising Stars Challenge. Plus, join the team on Instagram as it shares memorable photos from Kings All-Star Weekends past.

For three days, Feb. 24-26, the eyes of the basketball world will be on Orlando, Fla., for NBA All-Star Weekend, and for the third-straight season, Sacramento will be represented in the event that tips-off the festivities.

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who nearly hauled in Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam MVP honors a season ago, was named to the new-look Rising Stars Challenge, which will pit a mixed group of first- and second-year players against one another on Friday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. PST on TNT.

The Sacramento center is currently averaging 16.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per game – the latter stat ranking first among NBA sophomores and fifth overall in the League. The University of Kentucky product is also fourth in the NBA in double-doubles (18) – trailing only 2012 All-Stars Kevin Love, Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin.

With the updated format of the rookie-sophomore game, former NBA All-Stars and current NBA on TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, standing in as general managers for the two teams, selected the players to their respective squads in a draft held Thursday night on NBA TV.

Selected as Barkley’s second pick and the fourth-overall player chosen, Cousins will be playing for Team Chuck.

No. 15 will be joined by fellow sophomores John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, Tiago Splitter of the San Antonio Spurs, Evan Turner of the Philadelphia 76ers and Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz. NBA newcomers joining Barkley’s bunch, meanwhile, include Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Derrick Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves, MarShon Brooks of the N.J. Nets and Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs.

Though managed by Sir Charles, Oklahoma City Thunder Assistant Coach Maurice Cheeks and former NBA coach and current NBA on TNT analyst Mike Fratello will coach Team Chuck.

Last year, Cousins and Wall teamed up to lead the Rookies to a 148-140 victory over the Sophomores at STAPLES Center in L.A. Sacramento’s center had a game-high 33 points and a team-high 14 rebounds in the winning effort, while the Wizards’ guard captured the MVP award with 12 points and a game-record 22 assists.

Cousins is set to square off in the paint against Team Shaq big men Blake Griffin of the L.A. Clippers, Markieff Morris of the Phoenix Suns, Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons. The O’Neal managed backcourt includes Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields of the N.Y. Knicks, Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Bobcats, Norris Cole of the Miami Heat and Brandon Knight of the Detroit Pistons.

Chicago Bulls Assistant Coach Ron Adams and former NBA champion and current NBA on TNT analyst Steve Kerr will coach Team Shaq.

Discuss the NBA Rising Stars Challenge in real-time with Kings fans from around the world by joining the Kings.com live chat from Amway Center, which will begin on Friday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. PST.

Stay current with Kings.com and the team’s social networks throughout the action-packed, three-day All-Star Weekend as the Kings New Media Team goes all access to cover the events.

Can’t Wait for All-Star Action?

Follow along as the team counts down to NBA All-Star Weekend on Instagram. For each day leading up to the Rising Stars Challenge, a memorable moment in Kings All-Star history will be posted via the popular iPhone photo-sharing app.

All-Star Free Throws

Saturday beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST on TNT

Shooting Stars

Skills Challenge (participants yet to be announced)

3-Point Contest

Dunk Contest

Sunday beginning at 4:30 p.m. PST on TNT

NBA All-Star Game

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