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ASU Basketball: James Harden named 2017 NBA All-Star Game starter

Fear The Beard.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Houston Rockets Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Former Arizona State Sun Devils men’s basketball player and current Houston Rockets guard James Harden will start for the Western Conference at the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte, N.C., it was announced Thursday.

Harden, affectionately known as “The Beard”, will be making his fifth All-Star Game appearance, and his third-ever start in the exhibition contest (2014, 2015). He was the unanimous second-highest vote-getter in the Western Conference backcourt across fan, player and media voting.

Western Conference 2017 NBA All-Star Backcourt Voting Results
Screenshot via Ben Golliver (Twitter)

Harden is currently averaging a league-leading 11.6 assists per game to go along with 28.9 points and 8.3 rebounds. He’s recorded 13 triple-doubles this season, second in the league only to Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (21).

The 27-year-old’s assist-per-game output would signify the best mark he’s produced in his seven-year career, a byproduct of the arrival of head coach Mike D’Antoni, whose high-powered offensive strategy has Houston averaging 114.5 points per game.

Through 45 games, the Rockets are 33-12, good for third in Western standings.

In two seasons at ASU, Harden averaged 19 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists, and was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year after the 2008-09 season.