Mathurin’s pulling stock increases second year in Arizona
Bennedict Mathurin played a supporting role in Arizona as a freshman, showing his athleticism only in flashes.
A key cog for the Wildcats, ranked eighth this season, Mathurin now displays skills that have propelled him to the top of the NBA selection charts.
Not bad for a player who is still learning the college game.
“Benn has to develop at his own pace and he looks pretty good to me right now,” Arizona freshman coach Tommy Lloyd said. “I just think he has to stay stuck and focused on what he’s doing and he’s getting great results and he’s becoming a real basketball player.”
Mathurin is of Haitian origin but grew up in Montreal. The gangly guard was a four-star rookie out of high school and played at the NBA Academy Latin America in Mexico City, Mexico.
Mathurin occasionally wowed McKale Center fans as a freshman, soaring for vicious dunks while averaging 10.8 points per game. He scored 31 points against Oregon State last season, but has been an offensive factor at times.
The 6-foot-6 goaltender has become more assertive this season after choosing to return, leading Arizona with 18.9 points and catching 6.5 rebounds per game. He lived up to the biggest games of the season, scoring 25 against Wichita State, 30 against Illinois and 28 against No.18 Tennessee.
“I wanted to get out of the season, I had to do it on my own, but it’s about trusting my teammates,” said Mathurin. “Trust them that they can find me and that I will find them. The goal is to win, so if I get 20 points or if I score five points, all I want is to win.
Mathurin’s rise took him from a possible NBA end-of-first-round choice to a possible lottery choice.
SIZE: 6 feet 6 inches, 210 pounds.
STATS: 18.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, 51% shooting, 38% at 3 points.
STRENGTHS: Extremely athletic, he plays well over the rim, can beat defenders on dribbling and is an excellent perimeter shooter. Long-armed and agile, he has the tools to be an excellent defender of the ball.
“Mathurin has tremendous NBA 3 and D potential,” said Fran Fraschilla, analyst at ESPN. “The Canadian is one of the best athletes in college basketball with a straight shot. “
WEAKNESSES: The hit on Mathurin coming out of high school was that he was struggling to finish around the rim on contact. The extra strength in the offseason has contributed to that this year.
While Mathurin has the physical tools to be an elite defender, he doesn’t always appear on the pitch. It could also improve pick-and-roll decisions.
“His pick-and-roll decisions and ‘reads’ are a work in progress, but stepping out of a ball screen to score is no problem,” said Fraschilla.
SCREENING PROJECT: Potential lottery choice.
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