The Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns, last season’s unanimous Kia NBA Rookie of the Year, and the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, who has won both Kia NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month awards this season, highlight the list of 20 players selected by the league’s assistant coaches to play in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 17 during NBA All-Star 2017 in New Orleans.

For the third consecutive year, the league’s annual showcase of premier young talent will pit 10 first- and second-year NBA players from the U.S. against 10 first- and second-year NBA players from around the world.  The game will be televised live by TNT at 9 p.m. ET and will also be available on the Watch TNT App and on TNT Overtime.  In addition, ESPN Radio will broadcast the event from Smoothie King Center, with audio also available on the ESPN app.  BBVA Compass, the Official Bank of the NBA, maintains its role as title partner for the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge.

Towns, who helped the U.S. Team defeat the World Team 157-154 in last year’s BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, is one of two NBA players averaging at least 22.0 points and 11.0 rebounds this season (the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis is the other).  The U.S. Team also features the Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker, who is averaging 20.6 points and has scored at least 20 in each of his last 10 games, and the Indiana Pacers’ Myles Turner, who ranks third in the NBA in blocked shots (2.30 bpg) to go with 15.7 points and 7.6 rebounds.

Joining Towns, Booker and Turner on the U.S. Team are Malcolm Brogdon of the Milwaukee Bucks, Marquese Chriss of the Suns, Brandon Ingram and D’Angelo Russell of the Los Angeles Lakers, Frank Kaminsky of the Charlotte Hornets, Jahlil Okafor of the 76ers and Jonathon Simmons of the San Antonio Spurs.

The World Team is anchored by Embiid (Cameroon), who leads all rookies in scoring (19.8 ppg), rebounding (7.8 rpg) and blocks (2.47 bpg), as well as two members of the 2015-16 NBA All-Rookie First Team in Serbian center Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets (15.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.9 apg this season) and Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks (18.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.92 bpg).  Jokic is one of three Nuggets players on the World Team, along with Emmanuel Mudiay (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Jamal Murray (Canada).

Rounding out the World Team are Danté Exum (Australia) and Trey Lyles (Canada) of the Utah Jazz, Buddy Hield (Bahamas) of the Pelicans, Domantas Sabonis (Lithuania) of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dario Saric (Croatia) of the 76ers.

The World Team features three players who have participated as campers in Basketball without Borders, the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program: Embiid (BWB Africa 2011), Murray (BWB Global 2015) and Saric (BWB Europe 2010).

NBA opening night rosters for the 2016-17 season featured a record 113 international players from a record 41 countries and territories.  This marked the third consecutive season that opening night rosters included at least 100 international players and that all 30 teams had at least one international player.

The NBA’s assistant coaches chose the rosters for the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, with each of the league’s 30 teams submitting one ballot per coaching staff.  Coaches selected four guards, four frontcourt players and two players at either position group for each team.  They also picked a minimum of three first-year players and three second-year players for each team.

The head coaches for the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge will be lead assistant coaches from the 2017 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs.  The East and West coaching staffs are determined by the best record in each conference through games played on Sunday, Feb. 5.  Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and his staff have earned the honor for the West, while the East coaching staff has yet to be determined.

Player                                     Team                Pos.        Ht.         Wt.       School                                                 Experience

Devin Booker                        Suns                  G            6-6         206       Kentucky                                 1

Malcolm Brogdon                 Bucks               G            6-5         215       Virginia                                    R

Marquese Chriss                   Suns                  F             6-10       233       Washington                             R

Brandon Ingram                    Lakers              F             6-9         190       Duke                                         R

Frank Kaminsky                    Hornets            C            7-0         240       Wisconsin                                1

Jahlil Okafor                          76ers                 C            6-11       275       Duke                                         1

D’Angelo Russell                  Lakers              G            6-5         195       Ohio State                                1

Jonathon Simmons               Spurs                G/F         6-6         195       Houston                                    1

Karl-Anthony Towns           Timberwolves C            7-0         244       Kentucky                                 1

Myles Turner                         Pacers               C            6-11       243       Texas                                        1

Player                                     Team                Pos.        Ht.         Wt.       School or Team/Country of Origin                                                 Experience

Joel Embiid                            76ers                 C            7-0         250       Kansas/Cameroon                  R

Danté Exum                           Jazz                   G            6-6         190       Australia Inst. of Sport/Australia           1

Buddy Hield                          Pelicans            G            6-4         214       Oklahoma/Bahamas               R

Nikola Jokic                          Nuggets            C            6-10       250       KK Mega Vizura/Serbia        1

Trey Lyles                              Jazz                   F             6-10       234       Kentucky/Canada                   1

Emmanuel Mudiay               Nuggets            G            6-5         200       Guangdong/Dem. Rep. of Congo    1

Jamal Murray                        Nuggets            G            6-4         207       Kentucky/Canada                   R

Kristaps Porzingis                 Knicks              F             7-3         240       Cajasol Sevilla/Latvia            1

Domantas Sabonis                Thunder           F             6-11       240       Gonzaga/Lithuania                 R

Dario Saric                             76ers                 F             6-10       223       Anadolu Efes/Croatia            R

Source: Pitch London
Image: NBAE/Getty