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Bennedict Mathurin becomes the earliest Quebecer drafted in NBA history

His mother and sister by his side, his brother in mind, Bennedict Mathurin became the earliest Quebecer drafted in NBA history on Thursday evening. The Indiana Pacers made him the 6e choice of selection session.

Posted at 8:42 p.m.
Updated at 10:42 p.m.

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Katherine Harvey-Pinard

Katherine Harvey-Pinard
The Press

Elegantly dressed in a red and black suit, Mathurin seemed to hold back tears when NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced his selection at the microphone. Calmly, the Montrealer got up and took, in turn, his mother and his sister in his arms.

In his short introduction video, Mathurin spoke about his late brother Dominique, who was fatally hit by a car while riding his bicycle home from school in 2014, aged 16.

He was my mentor and the one who motivated me to play basketball. […] His dream was to play in the NBA. He was a model for me. I decided to pursue the dream, too.

Bennedict Mathurin, about his late brother Dominique

In an interview with TSN after he had recovered his Pacers cap, Mathurin indicated that his brother remained, to this day, “the reason why [il se] get up every morning. “He wanted me to be the best. »

“I know that my brother, who is in paradise right now, was with me,” he hinted a little later at the microphone of RDS. “I’m really excited, I can’t wait. »


PHOTO BRAD PENNER, USA TODAY SPORTS

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Bennedict Mathurin

Asked what the Pacers were getting by selecting him, Mathurin replied instinctively: “My heart. They will have everything from me. »

All eyes on Mathurin

Born in Montreal North, Bennedict Mathurin did not adopt the typical route to reach the top. He moved to Latin America’s NBA Academy in Mexico in 2018. He spent two years there before joining the University of Arizona Wildcats in NCAA Division 1, where he has been playing for since. two seasons.

Mathurin’s name has been on everyone’s lips in recent months. The Quebecer had a sensational season, maintaining an average of 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He was the spark plug for the Wildcats, who dominated the regular season. However, they were eliminated earlier than expected in March Madness’ “Sweet Sixteen”, even though they were the first seed.

Mathurin was nevertheless elected on various star teams and multiplied the interviews for the repechage. The Pacers were, naturally, among the teams that met him.

“I think I had a good training there, he said, always to RDS. I think the coaches really liked me, the staff liked me. They were straight with me, they didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear. They told me the things I needed to work on and that they were going to help me reach my full potential. »

In Indiana, Mathurin will find other young players like Tyrese Haliburton and Chris Duarte. “I’m really looking forward to playing with them,” said the 6’6″ and 210 lb athlete. He will also evolve under the orders of a renowned trainer in Rick Carlisle, who is placed at 15e rank in history for the number of wins in the NBA.

Inspire young people

Mathurin is thus added to the list of a few Quebecers who are already playing in the NBA, such as Chris Boucher and Khem Birch (Toronto Raptors) as well as Luguentz Dort (Oklahoma City Thunder).

In a press conference a few weeks ago, Mathurin said he wanted to “help young people pursue sport in Montreal North”. “There is no one who could tell me that making the NBA was possible younger. »

And yet. He is there. It was exactly that, his message for young Montrealers.

“If you do what you have to do, anything is possible,” he said. Never let someone tell you that you can’t do something. You always have to believe in yourself. There is no one who can stop you from doing anything except yourself. »

The first choices


PHOTO BRAD PENNER, USA TODAY SPORTS

Paolo Banchero

Duke University’s Paolo Banchero was the first overall pick in the NBA draft, which belonged to the Orlando Magic. Chet Holmgren (Oklahoma City), Jabari Smith Jr (Houston), Keegan Murray (Sacramento) and Jaden Ivey (Detroit) were then selected.

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