Pacers Select Bennedict Mathurin with Sixth Overall Pick

Heading into the NBA draft lottery in Chicago last month, Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan felt a slap on the shoulder. He turned and saw that it was Arizona Guard Bennedict Mathurin and his agent.

Mathurin’s agent told Buchanan that they thought he might be a good fit in Indiana. After the lottery closed and Indiana got their sixth overall win, Mathurin chatted with another senior Pacers employee – head coach Rick Carlisle.

“It was obvious on our part that he saw this as great,” Buchanan said, “…it was on our side too. It just felt right.”

In fact, the Pacers picked Mathurin with their first pick Thursday night.

The 6-6 guard averaged 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game last season as a sophomore for the Wildcats. Mathurin, who turned 20 on Sunday, was named Pac-12 Player of the Year and a second-team All-American consensus.

Mathurin will be a marginal addition to Indiana’s impressive collection of young talent, forming an impressive trio with 22-year-old Tyrese Haliburton and Chris Duarte, the 13th overall pick in last year’s draft.

“Just having my name called by the Pacers is really great for me,” Mathurin told Indianapolis media Thursday night via Zoom. “I feel like we have a pretty good team – I can say we, I’m a part of it now… and I’m looking forward to making an impact right away.”

Mathurin is of Haitian descent but was born and raised in Montreal. He left home at 16 to attend NBA Academy Latin America in Mexico City, where he spent two years before enrolling in Arizona. Mathurin is fluent in four languages ​​- French, Creole, Spanish and English.

“We’re thrilled to pick Bennedict as the sixth overall pick of the draft tonight,” said Kevin Pritchard, Pacers president of basketball operations. “This is a player that we have had our sights on for quite some time because we believe he has the ability to make an immediate contribution and become an important part of our foundation as it moves forward.

“As I mentioned after the NBA draft lottery, we intend to aggressively and proactively review any options that we believe are in our team’s best interests, both short- and long-term. We will continue to work diligently to improve across the board, not just over the course of this evening but throughout the off-season.”

Mathurin visited Indiana for individual practice with the Pacers on June 10. He said practice went really well and he left with a strong desire to end up in Indiana.

“Just the staff in general,” Mathurin said of what struck him during his visit. “The staff was really good to me when I was there for my team workout. I feel like they really believe in me.”

“Tomorrow I will wake up and be a pacer,” he added. “Just having the chance to play with Tyrese, Chris and the other guys on the team is going to be fun.”

Pacemaker design by Bennedict Mathurin

The Pacers were also impressed by Mathurin’s visit. Buchanan said Mathurin completed the scheduled workout, showered and went out to eat with team members. He then decided to return to Ascension St. Vincent Center where he trained again, this time with Carlisle.

“He’s a very feisty, bulldog, brave competitor,” Buchanan said of Mathurin. “He’s not afraid to challenge his teammates, he’s not afraid to challenge the opponent and he won’t back down. As a rookie, you have to have some of those qualities to survive in the NBA.”

Mathurin is Indiana’s top draft pick since 1988.

“I feel like a winner,” Mathurin said. “I’m a really competitive guy. So if I just join the team on the first day of practice, it’s going to be really cool. I like to compete.”

Media availability by Bennedict Mathurin after the draft

With the first pick in the second round and 31st overall pick, the Pacers selected Gonzaga point guard Andrew Nembhard. Nembhard, 6-5 guard, trained for Indiana June 15.

Ontario native Nembhard has dished out 324 assists for the Zags over the past two seasons and maintained a 3.2 assist-to-turnover ratio. He spent his first two college seasons in Florida before joining Gonzaga.

Nembhard averaged 11.8 points last season as a senior and ranked 15th in the NCAA with 5.8 assists per game. He shot well from both 3-point range (38.3 percent) and the free-throw line (87.3 percent) while also pulling out 1.6 steals per game defensively.

“Andrew Nembhard is a player we’ve liked for a long time,” said Buchanan. “Very intellectual point guard with great height, great feel for the game. Plays for others, persistent, calm but competitive.

“Just a winning player. That’s what we’re trying to add to this organization – so many talented players who want to win. Andrew nails that.”

Training drafts 2022: Andrew Nembhard

The Pacers also earned Minnesota’s 48th pick overall for a second-round pick in 2026. Indiana used the 48th pick to select Baylor forward Kendall Brown.

The 6-8, 200-pound Brown averaged 9.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists in his only collegiate season while shooting 58.4 percent from the field. He started all 34 games he played for the Bears.

Brown is from Cottage Park, Minnesota and turned 19 on May 11th.

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