Earlier today, the NBA announced that Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel and point guard Michael Carter-Williams have both been selected to compete in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend.
In some of the event's previous incarnations, the first-year Noel and the sophomore Carter-Williams would have (or could have) been placed on different teams. This year, the Rising Stars Challenge - which will be held at the Barclays Center on February 13 - will pit 10 of the best young, American-born stars against 10 first- and second-year players from around the world. Zach LaVine, Victor Oladipo and former Sixer Elfrid Payton are among those on the U.S. roster, while the World team includes Andrew Wiggins, Dante Exum, Rudy Gobert and Giannis Antetokounmpo (you can check out the full rosters here).
Is this a trial balloon for a possible U.S. vs. the World showdown at a future All-Star Game? Probably. But either way, it'll be pretty cool to see some of these guys playing together in a free-flowing environment. And if it wasn't for that meddling Sam Hinkie, we could have been treated to an Elf/MCW backcourt months ago...
A somewhat notable omission from Team America is Sixers' swingman K.J. McDaniels, who previously declined an invitation to participate in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. You could probably even make a case for second-year forward Robert Covington if you really wanted to, but barring a Pro Bowl-like exodus from the Rising Stars invitees, it appears as if both of those gentlemen are going to sit that weekend out.