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Beehive State basketball fan guide to NBA All-Star weekend

Published: Thursday, Feb. 13 2014 9:10 p.m. MST

Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke (3) drives off the screen of Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter (0) during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2014.

Matt Gade, Deseret News

NEW ORLEANS — As teammates headed across the continent Thursday for All-Star break trips — New York for Enes Kanter, Oakland for Andris Biedrins and spots in between for other guys — Trey Burke traveled south for the weekend.

The rookie is on a working vacation in the Big Easy.

On Friday, he’ll play in the Rising Stars Challenge, which features 18 of the NBA’s top first-year players and sophomores. On Saturday, the point guard will compete in the Skills Challenge, which tests athletes in passing, dribbling and shooting.

“They both should be fun,” he said. “Both of them are exciting for me.”

The 21-year-old also has multiple appearances, interviews and a service project to participate in during a busy All-Star weekend.

And, yes, he even plans to catch up with old teammates Jared Sullinger (high school) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (college), hang out with loved ones (his mom, dad and siblings) and relax in between events.

“It’s going to be exciting. I don’t know what to really expect because this is my first All-Star (appearance),” Burke said. “I look forward to spending time with my family and just enjoying the whole experience.”

Burke said he also wants to learn from the likes of, well, any of the NBA stars in town with whom he’ll be rubbing shoulders through Sunday night.

“I’ll get some rest and try not to do anything that’s going to make me even more tired than I am now,” Burke said Wednesday after the Jazz beat Philadelphia 105-100 to wrap up a three-game winning streak heading into the break. “I think the No. 1 thing is getting rest, eating right, mentally just getting ready for the second half.”

Burke’s weekend isn’t nearly as jam-packed as Damian Lillard’s. The former Weber State star is scheduled to become the first NBA quintathlete after competing in a record five events during the All-Star extravaganza.

“He’s a competitor,” Burke said of Lillard.

They’re not the only athletes with Utah connections in New Orleans. Here’s your Beehive State basketball fan guide to All-Star weekend:

Rising Stars Challenge

Friday, 7 p.m. (TNT)

Connections: Burke was selected to be on Team Webber, where he’ll join forces with his Michigan buddy Hardaway Jr. and his Northland (Ohio) High friend Sullinger. While their team is highlighted by New Orleans’ commissioner-appointed All-Star, big man Anthony Davis, Lillard is the featured player on Team Hill.

Jazz players Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, who get a break this weekend, scored 14 points apiece in the contest two years ago to help Team Chuck beat Team Shaq.

Burke will be the eighth Jazz player to play in this game, following Hayward, Favors, Bryon Russell, Andrei Kirilenko, Deron Williams, Paul Millsap and Ronnie Brewer.

D-League All-Star Game

Saturday, 1 p.m. (NBA-TV)

Connections: Big man Justin Hamilton, who helped the Lone Peak Knights win the Class 5A title in 2008, will represent his home state in this minor league showcase. The 7-footer was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2012 second round and then traded to the Miami Heat after playing college ball at Iowa State and LSU following his Utah prep career. He’s now patrolling the paint for the Sioux Falls Skyforce while trying to work his way into a steady job in the NBA.

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