The National Basketball Association announced Wednesday that Jonas Valanciunas (YO-nahs vah-lahn-CHEW-nahs) has been selected to participate in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. The event features two teams each consisting of nine rookies and sophomores mixed together, drafted from a pool selected by the NBA’s assistant coaches. The Rising Stars Challenge will be played Friday, February 14 at New Orleans Arena and can be seen on TSN2 / TNT beginning at 9 p.m. (ET).
Valanciunas was the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and spent a year overseas before joining the Raptors last season. He currently ranks third among sophomores averaging 8.6 rebounds and leads Toronto with 15 double-doubles. His latest double-double came January 27 during a 104-103 win at Brooklyn, where he posted a season-best 20 points and game-high 13 rebounds. Valanciunas grabbed a career-best 18 rebounds during the Raptors’ 95-83 win December 27 at New York.
Valanciunas also leads the Raptors with 128 offensive rebounds and has started all 44 games. Toronto has a 13-5 record this season when he grabs 10 or more rebounds.
A total of 10 Raptors have participated in the annual showcase at All-Star Weekend featuring first and second-year players. DeMar DeRozan was the last Raptor to participate in 2011. Other players include Jamario Moon (2008), Andrea Bargnani (2007-08), Jorge Garbajosa (2007), Charlie Villanueva (2006), Chris Bosh (2004-05), Morris Peterson (2001-02), Tracy McGrady (1998), Marcus Camby (1997) and Damon Stoudamire (1996).
This marks the third straight year rookies and sophomores will be mixed together on teams. The BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge Draft is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 6, televised exclusively on TNT at 7 p.m. ET. General Managers for the teams will be announced at a later date.