Canadians Bennedict Mathurin and Shaedon Sharpe are sixth and seventh in the NBA draft

Canadians Bennedict Mathurin and Shaedon Sharpe took very different paths into the NBA, but their pro dreams were realized just minutes apart on Thursday.

Mathurin, a 20-year-old from Montreal who played at the University of Arizona, was picked sixth by the Indiana Pacers. Moments later, with the seventh pick, the Blazers risked Sharpe, a 19-year-old from London, Ontario who didn’t play a single college game.


Bennedict Mathurin poses for a photo with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after he was selected sixth overall by the Indiana Pacers in the NBA basketball draft Thursday, June 23, 2022 in New York. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP – John Minchillo.

“I feel like a winner,” Mathurin said. “I’m a really competitive guy. Off the court I feel like a pretty fun guy. I like to do a lot of fun things.”

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This is only the second time in history that two Canadians have finished in the top 10 in the NBA draft. In 2014, Cleveland took Andrew Wiggins first overall, and Sacramento took number 8 Nik Stauskas.

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Montreal’s Bennedict Mathurin is destined for the NBA star

Montreal’s Bennedict Mathurin is destined for the NBA star

Two other Canadians went back to back in the second round. Gonzaga guard Andrew Nembhard joined Indiana’s Mathurin, who was picked 31st by the Pacers while Caleb Houstan was picked 32nd by Orlando.

The Pacers now have three Canadians, along with Toronto native Oshae Brissett.

“Canadian Pacers,” Brissett tweeted.

READ MORE: Montreal’s Bennedict Mathurin is set to be drafted into the NBA as his hometown bursts with pride

Canada has picked 37 players since the 1989 two-round draft, the second most of any country behind the United States

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“What a night for four young men who made their dreams come true by working hard and representing Canada with pride. And Canada is proud of them! See thee rise,” tweeted Canada Basketball CEO Mike Bartlett.

Mathurin joins a Pacers team that finished last season a low 25-47.

The six-foot-tall guard/forward became the first Canadian to attend the NBA Academy in Mexico City in 2018. The broadcast draft featured live footage of the current Academy players cheering for him.

Mathurin then played two seasons at the University of Arizona, winning the Pac-12 tournament’s most outstanding player awards and averaging 17.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game that year.

He scored 30 points in a big game in March Madness’ second round and helped Arizona beat Texas Christian University in overtime.

Senders compared Mathurin’s game to the Toronto Raptors’ OG Anunoby.

“We have a pretty good team and I’m looking forward to making an impact right away,” said Mathurin. “The staff was really good to me when I was there for my team workout. I feel like they believe in me. People’s confidence in my game is great.”

Mathurin, whose parents are from Haiti – he speaks English, French, Spanish and Creole – hugged his mother and sister before walking onto the Barclay Center stage. He received rave reviews for his burgundy and black floral suit.

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Sharpe, a 6-6 wing, was a five-star recruit when he enlisted in Kentucky in January. But he never played for the Wildcats, and while that was expected to change in 2022-23, he raised eyebrows by declaring himself for the draft instead. He hasn’t played any 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 going straight into the NBA is quite a journey. But every step I took was just a struggle and I had fun doing it,” Sharpe said.

Sharpe is looking forward to playing with all-star guard Damian Lillard.

“He’s a great Warden himself and has been in this league for a while so I can’t wait to really learn from him,” Sharpe said.

Nembhard, who played for Canada at the 2019 World Cup in China, spent four years in the NCAA and joined Gonzaga from Florida for his final two years. Gonzaga went undefeated in the 2020-21 regular season before losing to Baylor in the NCAA Finals. The Bulldogs were eliminated in the third round this year.

The 22-year-old from Aurora, Ontario, performed well in last month’s draft combine, dominating a five-on-five scrimmage with 26 points and 11 assists.

Houston, a 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ontario, averaged 10.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists at the University of Michigan this season.

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Coach Nick Nurse said it was a great night for the Canadians.

“Four in the top 32? And two in the top seven? So really good,” said Nurse, head coach for Team Canada and the Toronto Raptors. “(Mathurin) is obviously a super high pick but I thought he played great when I saw him and obviously he played great for (Canada U19 team).”

Nurse added that Nembhard was “spectacular” when he came to Toronto for training.

“So really another great night for Canada and basketball in the country,” the coach said. “And congratulations not only to all these guys and their families but also to all the coaches who helped get these guys there.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press Canadians Bennedict Mathurin and Shaedon Sharpe are sixth and seventh in the NBA draft


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