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NBA All-Star Game: One of Derrick Rose's former AAU teammates uses his military leave from Kuwait to come see Rose play

February 18, 2011 |  9:49 am

Rose_300 Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose has said he knows he'll have about 20 family members in Los Angeles this weekend to attend the NBA All-Star Game festivites.

But one person Rose doesn't know is here is one of his former AAU teammates who is on military leave from Kuwait and is using his first trip back to the U.S. to come to L.A. and hopefully see Rose play. 

Claude Mitchell, 23, is from Chicago's West Side and played alongside Rose for two years. Mitchell is now a sergeant in the Army and has been stationed in Kuwait for the last five months.

He is in the U.S. on a two-week break. He spent the first week in Chicago and then, along with four members from his unit in Kuwait and his younger brother, who is stationed at a Navy base in California, decided to make his first-ever trip to L.A. for NBA All-Star weekend.  

"We're trying to go to the games, but the tickets are super over-priced, so we're just enjoying everything else," Mitchell said, sporting a White Sox baseball cap as he sat in a Starbucks at L.A. Live on Friday morning, watching highlights of Rose on his laptop computer.   

Mitchell will return to Kuwait on Tuesday, where he'll be stationed for about the next six months. 

Mitchell said he lost contact with Rose after their AAU days and that Rose doesn't know he's here, but Mitchell said he remembers Rose's play well.

"The same as he is now -- explosive, very driven, focused, gets the job done," Mitchell said.

Mitchell, who said he was more of a "high flyer" -- standing about 5-foot-9, he did add that he had a 40-inch vertical leap -- has strong basketball ties to Chicago. One of his cousins is Northwestern senior guard Michael Thompson, another Chicago native, who is second on the Wildcats in scoring (14.5).  

Rose, who scored a career-high 42 points in the Bulls' 109-99 win against San Antonio on Thursday night, is slated to start in Sunday night's All-Star Game, becoming the first Bulls player to start in an All-Star Game since Michael Jordan did so in 1998.

Rose is also scheduled to compete in Saturday night's Skills Challenge, an event he won in his rookie season in Phoenix.

-- Baxter Holmes

Photo: Derrick Rose. Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki / US Presswire