NEW YORK — The NBA announced Wednesday that Orlando Magic center Nik Vucevic has been selected by league assistant coaches to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge on Feb. 15 at All-Star weekend in Houston.
Vucevic learned the news from a friend’s text message, and he received happy phone calls from family and friends. General manager Rob Hennigan and teammates congratulated him in the hours leading up to the Magic’s game against the New York Knicks.
“When I read the text, I was very happy,” Vucevic said. “I thought I deserved to make it because I was playing really well, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to. It’s a huge honor for me to be able to be a part of it. It’ll be an exciting weekend for me to look forward to.”
The Rising Stars Challenge is more commonly known as the rookie-sophomore game.
Vucevic entered the day averaging 11.9 points per game and fourth in the NBA in rebounding, averaging 11.2 per game. Vucevic also had compiled 23 double-doubles, tied for the sixth-highest total in the league. He’s also the only Magic player who has played in all 45 of the team’s games.
“It’s a great accomplishment for him,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. “He should be proud of the work that he put in and being acknowledged by other people around the league. So he’s setting a standard for himself, and we expect nothing less of him moving forward.
“I just think we have asked a lot from him, and he has really answered.”
Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons, who attended Lake Howell High School and the University of Florida, also was selected.
The other players named to the Rising Stars pool are:
Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors)
Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets)
Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons)
Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets)
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte Bobcats)
Brandon Knight (Pistons)
Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
Alexey Shved (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Dion Waiters (Cavaliers)
Kemba Walker (Bobcats)
Tyler Zeller (Cavaliers)
The participants will be drafted onto teams by Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal during a TNT pregame show Feb. 7.
Josh Robbins covers the Orlando Magic and the NBA for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JoshuaBRobbins. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun