ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin cementing in top-10 of NBA mock drafts

Jun 23, 2022, 12:39 PM
Bennedict Mathurin #0 of the Arizona Wildcats stands on the court during a game against the Wichita...
Bennedict Mathurin #0 of the Arizona Wildcats stands on the court during a game against the Wichita State Shockers during the Roman Main Event basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on November 19, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Wildcats defeated the Shockers 82-78 in overtime. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

A theme among several major outlets’ finalized mock drafts is it looks increasingly likely an Arizona Wildcats player will be taken in the top 10 for the first time since center Deandre Ayton went first in 2018.

Wing Bennedict Mathurin was mocked to the Indiana Pacers at No. 6 by both ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and The Athletic’s NBA staff Thursday morning ahead of the evening’s draft.

Mathurin’s stock on mocks has risen throughout the draft process, as Givony noted the former Wildcat excelled during his private team workouts and interviews.

The 6-foot-6 wing was a knockdown shooter in college, hitting 38.3% of his triples in two seasons. He was a consensus Second Team All-American as a sophomore and earned the Pac-12 Player of the Year award after averaging 17.7 points per game for the conference-winning Wildcats.

Givony mentioned Mathurin excels off screens and can play either wing spot as a potentially lethal catch-and-shoot option.

The Athletic’s Bob Kravitz wrote that Mathurin would be able to help the Pacers right away.

The Pacers were very impressed by both Mathurin and Dyson Daniels in their personal workouts in Indianapolis, but Mathurin feels like the choice. He’s a 6-6 wing with the ability to slash and finish at the rim, and he’s a solid shooter from the perimeter.

At this point, the Pacers are exceedingly thin at the wing position, and Mathurin fits the bill for a team that is likely to look a whole lot different after Thursday’s draft … Mathurin is a high-upside player who should provide immediate help for a team that is drafting in the top seven for the first time since 1989.

Both mocks had three Wildcats going in the top 33 picks.

Givony projected forward Dalen Terry at No. 21 to the Denver Nuggets and center Christian Koloko at No. 33 to Toronto Raptors.

The Athletic had Terry go No. 24 to the Milwaukee Bucks and Koloko at No. 30 to Nuggets.

Givony stated that Terry is a versatile wing with upside as a 19-year-old.

His length, unselfishness, feel for the game and ability to defend multiple positions could make him a viable NBA rotational player as his jumper continues to improve, and the fact that he isn’t the most instinctual or hungry scorer won’t be as big of an issue alongside the likes of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.

Koloko was the defensive anchor at Arizona and someone who projects as one of the draft’s prominent shot-blockers.

The Athletic’s Dave DuFour called him a “disruptive rim protector.”

With a 9-5 standing reach and 7-5 wingspan, Koloko definitely has the length to cause chaos as a help defender in the lane, but his mobility should allow him to survive on switches. On the offensive end, he has a soft touch around the basket but is a powerful finisher on cuts and lobs … He’s a project with some identifiable talents.

There has yet to be an NBA draft with three Arizona products in the first round.

The last time multiple Wildcats were taken in the top 30 was in 2020 when Josh Green and Zeke Nnaji were drafted.

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