BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Canadians Bennedict Mathurin and Shaedon Sharpe took very different paths to the NBA, but their pro dreams were realized just minutes apart on Thursday.
Mathurin, a 20-year-old from Montreal who starred at the University of Arizona, was selected sixth by the Indiana Pacers. Moments later the Blazers took a chance on Sharpe, a 19-year-old from London, Ont., who didn’t play a single college game, with their seventh pick.
“I feel like I’m a winner,” said Mathurin. “I’m a really competitive guy. Off the court, I feel I’m a pretty funny guy. I like doing a lot of fun stuff.”
It’s only the second time in history that two Canadians have gone in the top 10 in the NBA draft. In 2014, Andrew Wiggins was taken first overall by Cleveland, and Sacramento took Nik Stauskas with the No. 8 pick.
Mathurin joins a Pacers team that finished a lowly 25-47 this past season.
The six-foot-six guard/forward became the first Canadian to attend the NBA Academy in Mexico City back in 2018. The draft broadcast showed live footage of the current academy players cheering him on.
Mathurin then played two seasons at the University of Arizona, winning the Pac-12 Tournament’s most outstanding player honours, and averaging 17.4 points and 5.6 rebounds a game this year.
He scored 30 points in a big game in the second round of March Madness, helping Arizona beat Texas Christian University in overtime.
Broadcasters compared Mathurin’s game to the Toronto Raptors’ OG Anunoby.
“We have a pretty good team and I’m looking forward to having an impact right away,” Mathurin said. “The staff was really good to me when I went there for my team workout. I feel like they believe in me. Having people trust in my game is great.”
Mathurin, whose parents are from Haiti — he speaks English, French, Spanish and Creole — hugged his mom and sister before walking up to the Barclay Center stage. He drew rave reviews for his burgundy and black floral suit.
Sharpe, a 6-6 wing, was a five-star recruit when he enrolled at Kentucky in January. But he never played for the Wildcats, and while it was expected that would change in 2022-23, he raised eyebrows by declaring for the draft instead. He hasn’t played significant five-on-five action since a high school game in October.
“Going from high school to college and not playing your college season and then straight to the NBA, it’s quite the journey. But every step of the way I’ve just fought and had fun with it,” Sharpe said.
Sharpe looks forward to playing with all-star guard Damian Lillard.
“He’s a great guard himself and he’s been in this league for some time now, so I just can’t wait to really learn from him,” Sharpe said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2022.
The Canadian Press