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Keyonte George and Walker Kessler selected to play in Rising Stars Game at All-Star Weekend

Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George (3) smiles after a series of 3-pointers against the Indiana Pacers at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. On Tuesday the Jazz rookie learned he’s been invited to participate in the Rising Stars Game during NBA All-Star Weekend.
Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George (3) smiles after a series of 3-pointers against the Indiana Pacers at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. On Tuesday the Jazz rookie learned he’s been invited to participate in the Rising Stars Game during NBA All-Star Weekend. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

NEW YORK — The Utah Jazz will have players representing them in Indiana during the 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend.

The NBA announced Tuesday that rookie Keyonte George and second-year center Walker Kessler have been selected to participate in the Rising Stars Game. The game, which is played as a mini tournament with four teams and three games, is set to tip off Feb. 16 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis at 7 p.m. MST on TNT.

George was on the phone with friend and fellow rookie Orlando Magic guard Anthony Black earlier in the day when he realized that an announcement was going to be coming out at 4 p.m. EST. But the NBA sent out a “sneak peak” on social media that included baby photos of the Rising Stars players.

“I was on the phone with Anthony Black and he said it was gonna be announced at four o’clock, but I didn’t even know about it,” George said with a laugh. “Then I see the baby pictures, see myself on there. ... Got a lot congrats from family, from the team, everybody showed love.”

Kessler was a part of the rookie team last season in the Rising Stars Game, so he’ll be returning to All-Star Weekend for the second straight year. Kessler and George become the 15th and 16th Jazz players to participate in the Rising Stars Game.

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“I think anytime you’re honored by the league, by your peers by other coaches, it speaks to the work that you’re doing,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “I don’t think that anybody should take any of those moments for granted. Obviously both guys down the road I’m sure would like to be NBA All-Stars, but to be recognized as some of the top young players in the league I think it speaks to them and the work they’re putting in.”

George said he’s ready to take in all that All-Star Weekend has to offer and is excited about the opportunity to check something off his bucket list.

“It’s a big accomplishment, not a lot of people get to be in that game,” George said. “There’s only like 11 rookies and I mean, there were 60 of us drafted this year. You’ve got to put things in perspective. This is another part of the journey. This is another one of the accolades that I can put under my belt and be able to say that I’ve been a part of and try to build off of it.”

Denver Nuggets guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) and Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler talk during a free throw at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Denver Nuggets guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) and Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler talk during a free throw at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News