Further proving the notion that the Kentucky men’s basketball program helps prepare its players for the NBA better than any other school, three former Wildcats – DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and John Wall – were selected for the 2016 NBA All-Star Game as reserves on Thursday night.
No college has more than two representatives in the NBA All-Star Game.
The former UK stars will compete in the NBA All-Star Game in the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Feb. 14. The game will be televised by TNT. It’s the third time Davis and Wall have been named NBA All-Stars, while Cousins will make his second straight appearance.
All three appeared to be shoo-ins for the game after tremendous first halves of the NBA season.
Cousins, who starred at Kentucky during John Calipari’s inaugural season as UK’s head coach in 2009-10, is enjoying arguably the finest season of any big man in the league. The Sacramento Kings’ big man is averaging 27.3 points and 11.3 rebounds, the only player to rank in the top five in both categories in the league. He’s coming off a historic 56-point outing on Monday night, the most in Sacramento history.
Davis (2011-12) will make his third straight NBA All-Star Game after once again being among the league leaders in player efficiency rating. He entered Thursday with the sixth-best PER in the NBA. The former No. 1 overall pick is currently averaging 22.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks – second in the NBA – for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Wall (2009-10) has cemented himself as one of the elite point guards in the NBA with his third All-Star appearance. Kentucky’s first-ever No. 1 overall pick entered Thursday ranked third in the league in assists at 9.8 dimes per game and tied for fifth in steals with 2.1 swipes per contest. Those are in addition to his 19.6 scoring average and 4.1 rebound average.
What do Cousins, Davis and Wall all have in common other than their NBA All-Star appearance? A whole lot of double-doubles. Cousins ranks fourth in the league with 26 of them, Wall is seventh with 24 and Davis is tied for eighth with 23.
Karl-Anthony Towns (2014-15), Kentucky’s third No. 1 draft choice in the last six years, leads all rookies with 23 doubles-doubles, making him an easy choice for the Rising Stars Challenge, which pits 10 of the best first- and second-year NBA players from the United States against 10 first- and second-year NBA players from around the world. Towns, who will play on the U.S. Team, is a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year with a 16.1 scoring average in addition to 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 boards per game.
Nerlens Noel (2012-13) will join Towns on the U.S. Team in the Rising Stars Challenge after a solid second season in the NBA (Noel did not play in 2013-14 as he recovered from knee surgery). He’s among the league leaders with 1.6 blocked shots per game while posting 10.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game for the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Rising Stars Challenge will take place at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Feb. 12 on TNT.