It's never a bad thing when you are just 25 games into your NBA career and you get tabbed to spend the All-Star break at the NBA All-Star game. Phoenix Suns rookie Markieff Morris, the 13th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, was selected as one of nine first-year players to participate in the newfangled Rising Stars game in Orlando at the end of February.
The Rising Stars game replaces the old Rookie-Sophomore game and adopts are more fan-friendly approach by having celebrity stars pick their teams from a pool of players. Morris will join these NBA Rookies and Sophomores in the game:
MarShon Brooks New Jersey G-F 6-5 200 Providence/USA R
DeMarcus Cousins Sacramento C 6-11 270 Kentucky/USA 1
Landry Fields New York G 6-7 210 Stanford/USA 1
Paul George Indiana G-F 6-8 215 Fresno State/USA 1
Gordon Hayward Utah F 6-8 210 Butler/USA 1
Kyrie Irving Cleveland G 6-3 191 Duke/USA R
Brandon Knight Detroit G 6-3 189 Kentucky/USA R
Kawhi Leonard San Antonio G-F 6-7 225 San Diego State/USA R
Greg Monroe Detroit C 6-11 250 Georgetown/USA 1
Markieff Morris Phoenix F 6-10 245 Kansas/USA R
Ricky Rubio Minnesota G 6-4 180 FC Barcelona/Spain R
Tiago Splitter San Antonio F-C 6-11 240 Saski Baskonia/Brazil 1
Tristan Thompson Cleveland F 6-9 227 Texas/USA R
Evan Turner Philadelphia G-F 6-7 205 Ohio State/USA 1
John Wall Washington G 6-4 195 Kentucky/USA 1
Kemba Walker Charlotte G 6-1 172 Connecticut/USA R
Derrick Williams Minnesota F 6-8 241 Arizona /USA R
Here's what the Suns press release has to say about Keif:
Morris earns the honor after averaging 7.2 points, and an NBA rookie-best 5.0 rebounds in 20.6 minutes while appearing in all 25 of the Suns' games this season. In addition to rebounding, the versatile power forward also leads all rookies in three-point percentage (.460), seventh-best in the NBA overall, and ranks eighth among first-year players in scoring. Morris is one of seven rookies who have recorded a double-double this season.
It is fitting that Morris is the first Sun since Stoudemire to earn a Rising Stars selection because the former University of Kansas standout is having the best statistical season by a Phoenix rookie since Stoudemire. Morris is averaging the most points and the most rebounds by a Suns rookie since Stoudemire in 2002-03, and is nearly one of only nine first-year players in franchise history to average at least eight points and five rebounds.
TNT's Kenny Smith will serve as the honorary Commissioner and Ernie Johnson will host the live BBVA Rising Stars Challenge Draft on Thursday, Feb. 16, on NBA TV at 7 p.m. ET.