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Lakers' Russell, Clarkson selected to play in Rising Stars game

Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell will represent the Lakers in the Rising Stars Challenge. Rocky Widner/Getty Images

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers point guard D'Angelo Russell and shooting guard Jordan Clarkson are two of the 10 American rookie and sophomore players selected by the NBA's assistant coaches to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge on Feb. 12, the league announced on Wednesday.

Russell and Clarkson become the eighth and ninth Lakers selected to the game (formerly known as the Rookie-Sophomore Game), joining Jordan Farmar, Andrew Bynum, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Travis Knight, Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel. The new format pits 10 American rookie and sophomore players against 10 foreign-born rookie and sophomore players.

"I think it says a lot of people see a lot of promise in them, that they've had a pretty good season so far," Lakers coach Byron Scott said. "But what it tells me is that they still have a ways to go. They have to continue to work.

"You don't want to stop at the Rookie-Sophomore Game. You want to get to an All-Star Game. Hopefully that's those guys' dream and ambition. Hopefully they can pull that off in the next few years."

Russell is averaging 12.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.2 steals in 45 games this season, which includes 22 starts. He leads all rookies with 70 3-pointers made, and is third in assists, third in steals, fourth in points and eighth in 3-point percentage.

Russell, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2015 NBA draft, said it's an honor to be mentioned alongside some of the players he was selected to play with.

"It's great," Russell said. "Seeing the list of guys that made it, well deserved. To be one of those guys is an honor."

Clarkson, meanwhile, is averaging 15.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 steals, and has started all 45 games he has played in this season. He's second among sophomores in points, and has led the Lakers in scoring 11 times this season.

The No. 46 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Clarkson was selected to the All-Rookie First Team last season. He said he never envisioned being recognized as one the best young players in the league just 18 months after being taken in the second round.

"It's humbling, for sure," Clarkson said. "Especially coming from the No. 46 pick to playing in this game, it's definitely a cool accomplishment. ... I'm not here for the rewards and awards. I'm coming here to hoop and play.

"I just want to be good. I just want to be great one day. That's all I work for. I'm not worried about awards. The biggest award I want is a championship one day."

While the news is certainly a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season, the Lakers were upset that sophomore power forward Julius Randle and rookie power forward Larry Nance Jr. were not named to the roster.

"I don't know," Scott said when asked why Randle didn't make the team. "I don't know. That's a good question. I really don't know. He's almost averaging a double-double, so I don't know what else he had to do. He's one of the top 10 rebounders in the league as well. So it's just one of those things where maybe they felt they can only take a certain amount of guys from one team.

"I don't know. I really don't. I don't know what the criteria is for the selection of that team."

Randle is averaging 10.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 46 games this season (25 starts). He ranks 13th overall in the league in rebounding, and first among sophomores.

Nance Jr. is averaging 5.8 points and 5.1 rebounds in 38 games (22 starts).

Clarkson views the notion that the Lakers deserved three, if not four players, in the Rising Stars Challenge as validation that the franchise is headed in the right direction moving forward.

"It just shows we have a bright future coming along with me and D'Angelo in the backcourt," Clarkson said. "I feel like those other two guys should've been in the game as well -- Larry and Julius. They've been playing really well this year, so it's definitely sad they didn't get an opportunity to be in that. But I guess that's how it goes sometimes."

Joining Russell and Clarkson on the U.S. team are Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns and guard Zach LaVine, Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor and forward-center Nerlens Noel, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart, Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton, Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker and Utah Jazz guard Rodney Hood.

Playing against them is the World Team, which features Timberwolves guard-forward Andrew Wiggins, New York Knicks forward-center Kristaps Porzingis, Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay and center Nikola Jokic, Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic, Houston Rockets forward-center Clint Capela, Brooklyn Nets guard-forward Bojan Bogdanovic, Orlando Magic guard-forward Mario Hezonja, Dallas Mavericks forward-center Dwight Powell and Utah Jazz guard Raul Neto.

The game will be played on Friday, Feb. 12, at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto during the 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend.