On the ball! Teen becomes first Polish basketball player in history to be selected for NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge
NBA rookie Jeremy Sochan has become the first Polish basketball player in history to be selected for the Rising Stars Challenge in the prestigious All-Star Weekend.
The 19-year-old, who plays for the San Antonio Spurs and Poland’s national team has impressed coaches with his form this season and was selected as one of the 11 rookies for this year’s exhibition.
The Rising Stars Challenge is a basketball exhibition game held by the National Basketball Association on the Friday before the annual All-Star Game as part of the All-Star Weekend.
The event’s player pool consists of 11 NBA rookies (players who are on their debut season) and 10 second-year players, selected by a vote of NBA assistant coaches, and seven G League players, selected by the league office.
Talking to journalists at a press conference the Pole said: “I'm excited and happy. I've been working hard and being invited to an event like this is a great feeling.”
Appearing in 45 games, the Pole has finished in the top five in 41 of them averaging 9.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, the best result for a rookie since Frenchman Tony Parker, who made 72 starts in the 2001/02 season.
Playing his debut season on the NBA courts, Sochan is one of the only two members of this year’s rookie class to total at least 400 points, 200 rebounds and 100 assists.
Sochan comes from a solid basketball background and took his first steps in basketball while living in England. His parents met each other while playing for Panhandle State University in the United States.
His mother Aneta was a former basketball player for Polonia Warsaw. While his grandfather was the director of the basketball section at AWF Warsawa and the president of the Warsaw Regional Basketball Association.
Sochan said: “When I was growing up, due to the time difference, I had to get up very early to watch them. It has always been a part of my childhood and I am glad that I am now a part of it.”
Committing to play college basketball for Baylor in 2020, he was then the ninth overall pick at the 2022 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs. He has also represented Poland several times in European tournaments.
Currently, Sochan is breaking records in his debut season gaining praise from his coaches.
The Rising Stars challenge is scheduled for February 17 at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, United States.