In the middle of his second season, up and down all the way, Jazz forward Gordon Hayward has shown enough production and promise to be recognized on a national level.
The 6-foot-8 small forward, on Wednesday afternoon, found himself chosen amongst 18 players to the Rising Stars Challenge of first and second year players for all-star weekend in Orlando. In doing so, Hayward just may be the only Jazz to participate in all-star weekend, if Paul Millsap isn't selected to the all-star game, or Jeremy Evans to the dunk contest.
Hayward still has a lot of improvement to make, but he has been one of Utah's best all-around players, averaging 9.8 points per game, 3.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game. He has started all season, and though he has struggled with his shooting, has shown much of the promise that made him a lottery pick in the 2010 draft.
Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Enes Kanter were all not selected for the game. Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal will draft from the pool of 18 players. It will be the first time in the history of the game that the rookies and sophomores will be mixed.