NEW YORK – Never before has a Quebecer been drafted so early in the NBA: Bennedict Mathurin was selected sixth overall by the Indiana Pacers on Thursday evening at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
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At the age of 20, the young man from the Montréal-Nord district has lived his dream to the full while becoming a source of inspiration for many Quebecers who have wanted to follow in his footsteps. Mathurin climbed onto the stage to don the Pacers cap and appeared emotional but smiling.
Before he even knew the identity of the team that would pick him that night, Quebec’s Bennedict Mathurin had caused quite a stir on the red carpet. For the big day, Mathurin donned a spectacular red and black coat with a tag that read ‘DomixWorld’ to pay tribute to his brother Dominique who passed away seven years ago. He quickly rolled his eyes after his selection.
For their part, the Orlando Magic, which held first pick, not without surprise took aim at Paolo Banchero. The Oklahoma City Thunder then called Chet Holmgren. Those two players were therefore chosen over Jabari Smith Jr., who was eventually called up third overall by the Houston Rockets.
Following in line before Mathurin: Keegan Murray (Sacramento Kings) and Jaden Ivey (Detroit Pistons).
Top 10: 7th Canadian only
The Quebecer, born of the University of Arizona Wildcats, put himself in good draft position after his final season with the University of Arizona Wildcats in the NCAA. In 37 games he had an average of 17.7 points per game. The Quebecer took part in the last March Madness tournament where his club were surprised by Houston after two great victories in the round of 16.
Mathurin became only the seventh Canadian to be named in the top 10 by an NBA draft, after Tristan Thompson (fourth by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2011), Anthony Bennett (first by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013), Andrew Wiggins (first by the Cleveland Cavaliers). Cavaliers in 2014), Nik Stauskas (8th with the Sacramento Kings in 2014), Jamal Murray (7th with the Denver Nuggets in 2016), and RJ Barrett (3rd with the New York Knicks in 2019).
Before joining the University of Arizona in 2020, Mathurin had ensured his development in Mexico from 2018 within an academy established by the NBA. He also became only the second Latin America Academy player to be drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, after Australia’s Josh Giddey. Before Mathurin, Chris Duarte, who was picked 13th by the Indiana Pacers in 2021, represented the Quebec-affiliated player who was drafted earliest to the NBA, ahead of Bill Wennington, who was picked 16th by the Dallas Mavericks in 1985.