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Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Brooks selected for Rising Stars Challenge

By Mike Mazzeo

Nets rookie shooting guard MarShon Brooks wasn’t surprised that he was selected to participate in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge on Feb. 24 in Orlando during NBA All-Star weekend.

“I was happy. I was just happy and looking forward to it,” Brooks said Wednesday. “I was worried at one point because I hadn’t been playing lately, so I couldn’t make a case for myself.”

“It’s well-deserved,” coach Avery Johnson said. “Besides missing a few games for us, he’s been pretty good for us this year. Sometime in the future, maybe he’ll make the big game, but we’re excited for him.”

Brooks found out about the selection after receiving a phone call from the man who traded up to get him on draft day, GM Billy King.

“He told me his was proud of me,” Brooks said.

Brooks, 23, who ranks second among all first-year players in scoring (14.8 points per game) and eighth in rebounding (4.4 boards per game), has missed the last five games with a broken right pinky toe, but says he’s going to return “real soon” and expects to play.

“No [I’m not missing that game]. Definitely not. No way,” Brooks said.

Johnson said he has to be back and be completely healthy, though.

“If we have to hold him out to get him ready after the All-Star break [we will],” Johnson said. “We don’t want him to have any setbacks.”

Brooks has recently increased his court activity without contact, and has been hoisting up some shots. But Brooks said he “doubts” he’ll be back before Sunday, when the Nets will update his status again.

Brooks had a breakout senior season at Providence, finishing second in the nation in scoring, but he wasn’t drafted until late in the first round, when the Celtics scooped him up with the 25th pick. But the Nets coveted Brooks, and swung a deal to land him for the 27th pick (JaJuan Johnson) and a second-rounder in 2014.

Brooks came into the season with a chip on his shoulder, and got off to a flying start before injuries derailed it.

“It’s a big accomplishment for somebody like me coming out of high school that didn’t really get too much attention. I’m the underdog,” Brooks said. “And then not going in the lottery. It’s just a testament of hard work, i’m real proud of myself.”

Johnson said he joked about how great Brooks has been the last time he had dinner with Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

The BBVA Rising Stars Challenge was formally known as the rookie-sophomore game, but the format changed this season.

GMs Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal will draft the teams from an 18-player pool.

“This is a great honor for MarShon and the entire Nets organization,” King said in a statement. “It is an honor that is well deserved, and we look forward to him building on his stellar play once he returns to the court.”

The participants in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge were selected by the NBA’s assistant coaches, with each team submitting one ballot.

NETS NOTES: Shooting guard Keith Bogans (sore lower back) will play, Johnson said. ... Shooting guard Anthony Morrow will be back in the starting lineup.