BOSTON -- Boston Celtics second-year center Jared Sullinger and rookie forward Kelly Olynyk will represent the team at All-Star weekend next month after being selected to the player pool for the 2014 Rising Stars Challenge.
The event, previously the rookie vs. sophomore game, will featured mixed nine-man rosters (meaning the two could be on the same team) for the game that tips on Friday, Feb. 14 at 9 p.m.
Both players expressed excitement about traveling to New Orleans to represent the Celtics a part of All-Star Weekend. But both seem more focused on Boston's current team struggles as a team rather than celebrating individual accomplishments.
"I think, like the team, you can always get better," Olynyk said when asked to rate his freshman season. "I’m not in the All-Star game, so I’m doing as well as some of the other guys in this league. You can always get better, keep learning. It’s still early on in [his] career, I’ve got a lot to learn. Not only with the game, but the league and how it operates and all that stuff."
Asked if he was excited to have Sullinger along for the trip, Olynyk noted, "He’s really deserving it of it as well. A lot more than me, I would say. I’m glad he’s getting the opportunity as well."
For his part, Sullinger suggested he'll take a light-hearted approach to the matchup.
"It’s a guards game, so you’ll probably see me around the 3-point line a lot," he said. "Just let the guards go to work."
As for trekking to All-Star weekend, Sullinger added, "It’s going to be a lot of fun, you get to see all the old heads walking around that haven't been in the All-Star game for about 25 years now. It’s an experience of a lifetime. It’s going to be a lot of fun."
Celtics coach Brad Stevens was happy for his players, but made sure to note they each have a long way to go in their individual development.
"I think it’s an honor for them and I think the nice part about it is they can both get a lot better," said Stevens. "It's a good start to their young careers, although I think both of them would like to play better on a night-in, night-out basis, so hopefully that’s just validation for them and it encourages them to continue working the right way."
Read on for a look at the entire player pool and how rosters will be determined:
2014 BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge Player Pool
How will rosters be determined? From the NBA ...
Following the announcement of each team on Feb. 6, fans will be able to vote online from both their computer and mobile device for the starters of each team. The starting lineups will be determined by the players garnering the top votes for their respective positions, with two backcourt and three frontcourt spots for each team. The announcement of the starting lineup will be made in broadcast and in-arena on the night of the game. The head coaches for both teams will be the lead assistant coaches from the 2014 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs (Indiana's Frank Vogel and Oklahoma City's Scott Brooks are the head coaches for the All-Star game).