Arizona sophomore Bennedict Mathurin worked out with the Indiana Pacers early this month, and the decision for the organization to draft him may have been solidified after that visit.
The Pacers selected Mathurin with the sixth overall pick in the NBA draft on Thursday and formally introduced him on Friday, along with Andrew Nembhard (31st pick) and Kendall Brown (48th pick). The trio is expected to be key additions to a Pacers team in the midst of a rebuild.
Indiana identified Mathurin early in the process as a prospect it could target in the lottery. They brought him in for a workout on June 10 and were thoroughly impressed with his performance on the court, and what followed that session, according to head coach Rick Carlisle.
He had his workout in the morning and then we had lunch with him. He was going to be staying overnight that evening and traveling out the next day so he asked if the gym was open and if he could come back at 8 o’clock at night to work out and work on some things. I said, ‘Sure. How about if I meet you in the gym?’ He said, ‘Yeah, that’d be great.’ We got together and had about an hour session working on footwork and stuff like that.
Mathurin entered the pre-draft process highly touted for his work ethic and leadership inside of the locker room. It started when Mathurin was with the NBA Academy Latin America in Mexico City, and continued at Arizona and, now, in the NBA.
Carlisle and the Pacers knew Mathurin would fit in well.
It told me a lot about him as a guy that really has a great intellectual curiosity for the game and a great love of the game. Guys that have a chance to really succeed and achieve in the league have a real fascination with self-discovery of getting better and he is one of those guys. I could tell that evening it was clear to me that this is our kind of guy.
The Pacers add a player in Mathurin known as a knockdown shooter with a great ability to score. He will need to improve as a defender but has the size at 6-foot-6 and strength needed to emerge on that end of the floor and hold up against NBA competition.
The organization opted at the trade deadline to reset the roster a bit after sending Domantas Sabonis to the Sacramento Kings for Tyrese Haliburton. They appear to have added some great pieces on Thursday as they look to continue building toward the future.
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