NBA

Canada's Bennedict Mathurin sees NBA draft stock rise in 2nd year at Arizona

Canada's Bennedict Mathurin played a supporting role at Arizona as a freshman, showing off his athleticism only in flashes. A key cog for the eighth-ranked Wildcats this season, Mathurin is now displaying skills that have pushed him toward the top of NBA draft boards.

Montrealer impressing in increased role as college sophomore

Canada's Bennedict Mathurin, who plays college basketball for the Arizona Wildcats, could be picked near the top of the upcoming NBA draft. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Bennedict Mathurin played a supporting role at Arizona as a freshman, showing off his athleticism only in flashes.

A key cog for the eighth-ranked Wildcats this season, Mathurin is now displaying skills that have pushed him toward the top of NBA draft boards.

Not bad for a player who's still learning the college game.

"Benn needs to develop at his own pace and he looks pretty good to me right now," Arizona first-year coach Tommy Lloyd said. "I just think he needs to stay locked and loaded on what he's doing and he's getting great results and he is developing into a real basketball player."

Mathurin is of Haitian decent but grew up in Montreal. The lanky guard was a four-star recruit out of high school and played at NBA Academy Latin America in Mexico City, Mexico.

Mathurin wowed the fans at McKale Center at times as a freshman, soaring in for vicious dunks while averaging 10.8 points per game. He scored 31 points against Oregon State last season, but at times was a non-factor offensively.

The 6-foot-6 guard has become more assertive this season after opting to return, leading Arizona with 18.9 points and grabbing 6.5 rebounds per game. He's risen to the occasion in the biggest games of the season, scoring 25 against Wichita State, 30 against Illinois and 28 against No. 18 Tennessee.

"I felt like coming out of the season I had to do it by myself, but it's about trusting my teammates," Mathurin said. "Trusting them that they can find me and I'm gonna find them. The goal is to win, so if I get 20 points or I score five points, all I want to do is win."

Mathurin's rise has moved him up from a possible late first-round NBA pick to a possible lottery pick.

Size: 6-foot-6, 210 pounds.

Stats: 18.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, 51 per cent shooting, 38 per cent 3-pointers.

Strengths: Supremely athletic, he plays well above the rim, can beat defenders off the dribble and is an excellent perimeter shooter. Long-armed and agile, he has the tools to be an excellent on-ball defender.

"Mathurin has terrific NBA 3 and D potential," ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla said. "The Canadian is one of the best athletes in college basketball with a pure shooting stroke."

Weaknesses: The knock on Mathurin coming out of high school was that he had a hard time finishing around the rim through contact. Added strength during the off-season has helped with that this year.

While Mathurin has the physical tools to be an elite defender, it doesn't always show up on the court. He also could improve on pick-and-roll decisions.

"His pick-and-roll decisions and 'reads' are a work in progress, but coming off a ball screen to score is no issue," Fraschilla said.

Draft projection: Potential lottery pick.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now