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Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler

Mandatory Credit: Jacob Taylor/AU Athletics

An Auburn's fan guide to NBA All-Star Weekend

AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) – Auburn University will be well represented in this year’s NBA All-Star weekend festivities with Jabari Smith Jr., Walker Kessler and Sharife Cooper all participating in this year’s events.

Rising Stars

The first event, the 2023 Jordan Rising Stars mini-tournament, will take place on Friday, Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. CT on TNT.

For the second straight season, Rising Stars will feature a three-game mini-tournament comprised of four teams made up of NBA rookies, sophomores and NBA G League Players.

The games will have no game clock with each game ending when one team reaches a predetermined target score. The two semi-final games will have a target score of 40 points while the final is a race to 25 points.

Four former NBA players serve as captains of the four teams. Three teams are comprised of players selected in a draft with a pool of 21 first and second-year players. The last team is made up of players from the G-League.

Smith was selected with the 16th overall pick to Team Joakim led by Joakim Noah. Joining Smith is Evan Mobley (Cavaliers), Josh Giddey (Thunder), Jalen Williams (Thunder), Jeremy Sochan (Spurs), Quentin Grimes (Knicks) and Jalen Duren (Pistons).

Kessler was selected four picks later at 20th overall by Team Deron. Team Deron is led by Deron Williams and includes Franz Wagner (Magic), Jalen Green (Rockets), Alperen Sengun (Rockets), Trey Murphy III (Pelicans), AJ Griffin (Hawks) and Bones Hyland (Nuggets).

Skills Challenge

Both Smith and Kessler will participate in the Kia Skills Challenge on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. CT on TNT.

Smith was selected to Team Rookies and will be competing alongside Paolo Banchero (Magic) and Jaden Ivey (Pistons).

Kessler will be competing for the host team, Team Jazz. The big man will be joined by teammates Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton.

Both the former Tigers will be competing against the third team, Team Antetokounmpo, made up of brothers Giannis, Thanasis and Alex.

The teams will compete in three events, each event being worth 100 points to the winner.

Round one is the Team Relay event. Teams will take turns going through an obstacle course in which each player must complete a 35-foot outlet pass at a moving target, dribble downcourt through obstacles, make a shot in the lane and a three-pointer before dribbling downcourt and making a dunk or layup.

Round two is the Team Passing event. In this event, teams will have 30 seconds to amass points by completing passes to each other while navigating obstacles.

The final round is the Team Shooting event. In this event, the teams will have 60 seconds to score as many points as they can by shooting from different marked spots on the court.

If any teams are tied after the three round they will enter a tiebreaker round, the halfcourt shot. The winner will be decided based on which team can make a half-court shot in the least amount of time.

NBA G League Next Up Game

Cleveland Charge guard, Sharife Cooper, will be competing in the inaugural NBA G League Next Up Game on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. CT on NBA TV.

Cooper will be competing on team Luka after being selected with the 11th overall pick in the draft by team captain Luka Garza.

The small guard is coming off January G-League Player of the Month and has won two G-League Player of the Week awards this season.

With that Auburn will be represented on each day of NBA All-star weekend with possibilities for multiple Smith vs Kessler matchups to win some hardware.


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