Rookies vs Sophomores game remixed into Rising Stars Challenge

The familiar Rookies vs Sophomores game that was a staple event during the All-Star Weekend will be getting a facelift and has now been reborn as the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, which will introduce an all new format for the event. For the first time, rookies and sophomores will be mixed together on teams. Though there was never much discussion in past years over how to improve this particular showcase, the NBA likes to tinker with the event lineup at the All-Star Weekend and this might drum up some more interest in an event that has always taken a backseat to the Slam Dunk contest.

TNT Analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal will serve as the general managers of two opposing teams, each with nine man rosters, consisting of NBA rookies and sophomores drafted from a pool that was previously selected by the NBA’s assistant coaches. Also, 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. The pool of players that will take part in this “draft” will be announced on Feb. 8.

“The BBVA Rising Stars Challenge will showcase the bright future of basketball,” said Ignacio Maldonado, BBVA Global Director of Sponsorship and Content. “This is a great opportunity for us to support these young players who will continue to help make the NBA the best league in the world.”

Fellow TNT Analysts Mike Fratello and Steve Kerr will be part of the coaching staffs for the teams, with Fratello joining TEAM CHUCK and Kerr joining TEAM SHAQ. The Head Coaches for both teams will be the lead assistant coaches from the 2012 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs.

“The BBVA Rising Stars Challenge is an innovative approach to a traditional All-Star event that features our game’s most exciting first and second year players competing on a grand stage,” said Mark Tatum, NBA Executive Vice President of Global Marketing Partnerships. “BBVA is an ideal title partner for this event where the best young players in our game will be showcased to a global audience.”

The BBVA Rising Stars Challenge will be televised live nationally on TNT at 9 p.m. ET and also will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio, while will make live audio available to fans in multiple languages. NBA games are broadcast to 215 countries and territories in more than 40 languages. The BBVA Rising Stars Challenge practice will be held at NBA All-Star Jam Session at 9:30 a.m. on Friday morning, Feb. 24, and will be broadcast on NBA TV.

Tickets to the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge are available for $35 for the upper bowl and $50 for the lower bowl, and fans can visit to purchase them.