Walker Kessler downs Keyonte George on way to Rising Stars tournament win

The Utah Jazz saw two of their own square off in the Rising Stars Tournament
2024 NBA All-Star - Panini Rising Stars
2024 NBA All-Star - Panini Rising Stars / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

The Utah Jazz saw three of their own arrive for the All-Star festivities this weekend, with Lauri Markkanen taking part in the 3-Point Contest, and Walker Kessler and Keyonte George squaring off in the Rising Stars Tournament. The tournament sees four teams play three games, with the winning two teams going on to face off in the finals.

The goal is to be the first team to score 40 points in the semi-final matchup, with the bar being lowered for the finals, to just 25 points. The first team that hits that mark wins. This format not only sees a point-based victory but also guest coaches, who lead the youngsters. The teams are divided up with mostly first and second-year players filling out the rosters, as well as select G-League players. It's a format that often puts teammates against one another.

That's what happened with the Utah Jazz. George played for Team Tamika, coached by retired WNBA player Tamika Catchings and squad head coach Elston Turner. Kessler played for Team Jalen, named after honorary coach Jalen Rose, and handled by head coach Joe Prunty.

Despite not being the head coach, the squads in the tournament are named after the honor coach, which in this case is Catchings and Rose

Under Rose, Kessler was able to upend his teammate George to start off the tournament. George played just one game, getting 7:42 minutes of action, going 1-4 from the floor for two points, while also dropping a steal, a block, and a rebound in his action. Kessler pulled down just two points and two rebounds in that first game, playing just 9:42. Despite his modest time, the team won and moved on to the finals.

Kessler only played 3:27 in the much shorter finals, but in the time he did play, he put up four points and a rebound.

Kessler now can say that he won a Rising Stars Challenge in his second and final attempt. George will likely be back next season but Kessler will no longer be eligible to play as he's entering his third season next year and isn't a member of a G-League squad.

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