Alexandre Sarr returned to action with a bang this week in what was a strong round of fixtures for a group of Next Stars.

29 Jan
By Dan Woods for

NBL24's class of Next Stars is looming as one of the top groups of emerging hoops talent anywhere in the world.

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Alexandre Sarr marked his return from injury with a stellar performance against South East Melbourne in Perth’s second game of Round 17.

The French phenom and top-three draft pick elect dusted off the cobwebs with a pair of blocks in fewer than seven minutes in his return game against Illawarra, before he exploded for 18 points and five blocks against the Phoenix.

Sarr was named Foot Locker Player of the Game for his stellar performance against the likes of former Brooklyn and Minnesota forward Mitch Creek and star Puerto Rican guard Gary Browne.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Alex Sarr was dominant in the <a href="">@PerthWildcats</a>’ W ?<br>?<br>The Next Star put up career-highs in points and blocks, showing everyone why he is ranked number one by NBA draft experts ? <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NBL Next Stars (@NBLNextStars) <a href="">January 28, 2024</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Mantas Rubstavicius almost helped pull New Zealand to victory over a fast-finishing Illawarra side in the Breakers’ second game of the round, however a late fightback from the Hawks put an end to the 5-0 winning record whenever Rubstavicius scored 15 points.

The Lithuanian starred on the offensive end with 17 points in the loss, but was also an active defensive contributor with a game-high four steals against former NBA trio Gary Clark, Tyler Harvey and Justin Robinson.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Good defence creates easy offence for Mantas Rubštavi?ius ??‍??<br><br>?? ESPN via Kayo <br>?? Sky Sport <br>?? ESPN3 + ESPN app <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NBL Next Stars (@NBLNextStars) <a href="">January 28, 2024</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Ariel Hukporti continued his run of starts for Melbourne despite the return of former MVP candidate Jo Lual-Acuil Jr to United’s active roster.

Lual-Acuil’s starring role in Melbourne’s win over Brisbane saw Hukporti take a back seat for Melbourne, but he was a strong contributor with four points, seven boards and a pair of steals.

He maintained his place in the starting lineup and battled well with former Philadelphia 76er Jonah Bolden against the Kings, however he couldn’t pull Melbourne to victory.

Hukporti ended the defeat with nine points, five boards and a pair of blocks.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">So big, so strong, so ?????. That&#39;s a man&#39;s jam from Ariel Hukporti ???<br><br>?? ESPN via Kayo Freebies | 10 Peach 10 Play<br>?? ESPN 3 + ESPN app <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NBL Next Stars (@NBLNextStars) <a href="">January 28, 2024</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Trentyn Flowers returned to an in-form Adelaide roster following three weeks out with a knee complaint.

He featured for just under two minutes following his layoff, but made his presence felt with three points and two rebounds in his time on court in Adelaide’s win over Cairns.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">FLOWERS WENT UPSTAIRS ?<br><br>Catch the action live on ESPN via Kayo ? <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NBL Next Stars (@NBLNextStars) <a href="">January 27, 2024</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Alex Toohey continued his consistent run of starts for Sydney and added stats across the board in the Kings’ defeat to South East Melbourne.

He added four points, two rebounds, a steal and a block, before he ended the victory over Melbourne with three points and two assists.

Rocco Zikarsky continued his run of high-impact appearances for the Bullets in Brisbane’s loss to Melbourne. He had two points and three rebounds in the defeat.

AJ Johnson added two rebounds in Illawarra’s big win over the Wildcats, before he registered a DNP against the Breakers.

Bobi Klintman registered a DNP in Cairns’ only game of the round following his return to the active roster from concussion.

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