MONTREAL — Pacers fans, get ready for even more pep on the court.
Montrealer Bennedict Mathurin was selected sixth by Indiana in the NBA draft on Thursday.
The dream came true at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. A belated but sumptuous holiday gift for the Quebecer, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Sunday.
After he heard his name from commissioner Adam Silver, we saw the emotion on Mathurin’s face when his mother Elvie Jeune hugged him. He then had a touching hug with his big sister, Jennifer.
“Family is really everything to me,” said Mathurin in an interview shortly after his selection, with RDS.
The six-foot-six, 210-pound athlete spent two seasons with the University of Arizona.
The Pac-12 Player of the Year, Mathurin improved his points per game average from 10.8 to 17.7 from his rookie season to the second.
Mathurin grew up in the same corner of the city as his good friend Luguentz Dort, an impact player with the Thunder for three years.
The other Quebecers on the Silver circuit are Chris Boucher and Khem Birch, of the Raptors. Of the lot, only Mathurin was fished out.
Asked by RDS whether he has a message for young players in the province, Mathurin said “if you do what you have to do, anything is possible. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.”
About the Pacers, on June 16, Mathurin had said on June 16 that he would see himself well with them, highlighting the talent of players like Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner, but also the presence of a renowned coach like Rick Carlisle.
“It’s always been my dream to play in the NBA,” Mathurin told RDS. I’m really excited. Reggie Miller is one of my favorite players of all time.
“I can’t wait to play with guys like (Haliburton) and Chris Duarte. I will bring my competitive spirit, my energy, my personality.
Carlisle’s roots are in upstate New York.
Lying 15e in history for NBA wins, the 62-year-old is also the president of the NBA Coaches Association.
Since 2014, Indiana has been beaten in the first round five years in a row, failing to reach the playoffs on other occasions.
The team is coming off its worst season since the mid-1980s, going 25-57.
Indiana had a lot of success in the 1990s, with Miller and Mark Jackson in particular.
The Magic kicked off the session by drafting Paolo Banchero of Duke.
The Thunder then chose Chet Holmgren from Gonzaga and then the Rockets turned to Jabari Smith from Auburn.
During the Sweet Sixteen of March Madness, the Wildcats were defeated 72-60 by the University of Houston.
Mathurin had 15 points in this game, after collecting 18 and 30 points in the first two games of the tournament.
“He can create a shot and he’s great on defense,” University of Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said of Mathurin.
“His acceleration rate is in a class of his own and he’s formidable as a shooter.”
The Wildcats were led by Sean Miller in his first season, and by Tommy Lloyd in his second.
Mathurin argued that the former being more focused on defense and the latter on offense helped him become more versatile.
“Bennedict has always had the physical and athletic assets to be part of the elite,” said David DeAveiro, head coach of men’s basketball at Ryerson since April 2020, after nine seasons with the University of Ottawa and 10 seasons with McGill. .
“With Arizona, he developed his shooting and ball handling. He has always been tough in defense and in attack, he has gained confidence. The NCAA exposed him to a higher level of competition and he answered the call. He will continue to grow as a player.
In 2018, the Canadian moved to Latin America’s NBA Academy in Mexico, becoming the first Canadian to be part of the program.
Last year, Mathurin helped Canada claim bronze at the FIBA U19 World Cup in Latvia.
For Mathurin, the road to success was marked by tragedy.
When he was 12, his older brother Dominique lost his life in a bicycle accident, aged 15.
“He’s the reason why I’m moving forward,” Mathurin said recently. He’s the reason why I want to be the best at what I do.”
Thursday evening, when chosen, he added “my brother was with me”, adding that his suit and his chain on the side of the heart, it was in tribute to him.
Mathurin and his big sister Jennifer found the strength to get through the ordeal, thanks in particular to sport. Jennifer played basketball for four years with North Carolina State.
“She was my idol and she still is, Mathurin has already said. She always pushed me to improve myself. She made sure to guide me well so that I could be successful. It is thanks to her that I have become a very confident person.
Of Haitian roots, the former Wildcat speaks French, Creole, English and Spanish.
The Nets’ home has hosted the draft every year since 2013 except 2020, due to the pandemic.
Another Canadian was drafted right after Mathurin, Ontario’s Shaedon Sharpe of Kentucky, by the Portland Trail Blazers.
To start the second round of the repechage, two Canadians also came out in quick succession. Andrew Nembhard will join Mathurin at the Pacers while Caleb Houstan has been selected by the Magic.
At the start of last season, there were 18 players from Canada in the NBA – a high for players born outside the United States for the eighth straight year.
AJ Griffin (Duke) was drafted 16th, by the Hawks. He is the son of Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin, who played nine seasons in the NBA.