If I asked you which freshman in college basketball is 2nd in BPM behind Evan Mobley you’d probably guess Cade Cunningham, right? Nope. Jalen Suggs? Negative. Hmm… it’s gotta be Hunter Dickinson then? Again, wrong. Say hello to Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin, one of the most under-the-radar NBA prospects in the entire country. While he may not be a household name or a prime “one and done” prospect, he’s a legitimate long-term player to watch that should pick up more steam in the mainstream media sooner than later.
Bennedict Mathurin: Wing, 6’7″, 195 lbs., Arizona Wildcats, (18 years old).
Mathurin stood out in a few of the early Arizona games I caught in the beginning of the season and was someone on my radar, and his recent 31 point outburst in his first career start against Oregon State inspired me to dig deeper and break his game down a bit.
Offensive role: Slasher/Scorer.
Defensive role: Defensive playmaker. Multi-position defender.
NBA projected role: Rotation player, starter upside.
Swing factor: Jumper.
ESPN 2021 Big Board: N/A
My Big Board: 2022 Prospect
Bennedict Mathurin grew up in Montreal and his mother is originally from Haiti. He wound up at the NBA Academy in Mexico City where was recruited heavily by Arizona assistant Jack Murphy, which led to his eventual commitment to Arizona.
Heading into his first year at Arizona, Mathurin was ranked 128th by 247 Sports’ composite rankings, and I believe it’s safe to say he’s blown that ranking out of the water with the eye-popping start to his freshman season.
Arizona recently lost breakout star Jemarl Baker Jr. and plugged Mathurin into the lineup for the first start of his career and he went on to post an impressive (and efficient) 31 points with 8 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal on just 12 shot attempts. “I felt like I could step up without Jemarl Baker and I just went on the court to do what I could do,” Mathurin said. That he did.
In the two games he’s received 30+ minutes this season he has scored 31 and 24 points respectively on exactly 12 shot attempts in both games. The efficiency and production when he gets a large workload has definitely popped early on.
Here are some highlights of that electric performance:
Mathurin is an explosive athlete that has shown he can score from all three levels on the court, especially in the paint and isn’t afraid of contact. He also has some underrated court vision and makes the correct read off the dribble more often than not, which bodes well for his feel for the game and raises the ceiling of his offensive potential.
He can beat you off the dribble, and he’s shown he can shoot enough to keep the defense honest. The length and athleticism he possesses help him feast in transition. From a raw upside perspective, he has all the tools to become a very effective multi-dimensional offensive player. He’s thrived as a playmaker and finisher throughout his young career, but with the (sustained) improvement on his jumper he becomes a different animal. Consistency will also be the key with him on the offensive end, he must remain aggressive and hopefully the momentum of his strong 31-point outing carries over into the coming games.
Swing Skill: The Jumper
The rapid improvement of Mathurin’s jump shot (from distance in particular) has turned heads, as the trajectory he’s on is a swift and lightning quick rise from his shot going from nearly broken a few years ago to reliable and sound mechanically… all within about a 24-28 month time frame.
Here’s his first three pointer of his college career– a pull-up three that looks quite comfortable for him.
Arizona head coach Sean Miller had this to say about Mathurin’s jump shot:
“If you just look at Benn’s shot, and Benn has a great looking shot, he’s going to be a very, very good shooter,” Miller said. “He’s at the beginning stages of it, but yes we believe in his shot. He’s proven it games. He’s proven it in the drills that we do, the way we practice just shooting. And he’s put in a lot of time with our staff. You know, early in the morning, before practice, after practice, where I think some of it is improved. Some of it is when you have a shot like his, I mean sky’s the limit. It wouldn’t surprise me if, when he leaves us, that he doesn’t go on to be a long term really good 3-point shooter.”
The defensive potential is high due to his combination of athleticism, versatility and length on that side of the floor. He absolutely must add strength (cliche, yes) in order for him to unlock his full potential on that end, but he has the tools and wherewithal to excel as a defender.
Here’s a sequence that really stood out from the Oregon State game. He reads the play from the start and leaks out in transition to generate a perfectly-timed, mega-athletic block, then immediately fills the lane in transition and hits the catch-and-shoot triple after a quick up-fake.
There are some frame concerns as far as strength goes in the short-term, but he has ideal size and length and should be able to fill it out nicely as time goes on, which is a major factor as to why him weighing in at 195 pounds while standing 6’7″ likely puts him in the 2022 NBA Draft pool. Mathurin is a quick twitch athlete that can rise up with ease as illustrated below in this putback slam against UCLA.
Long Term Prospect Status
It’s still too early to tell for sure at this point, but it seems likely that Mathurin will be a multi-year player at Arizona and the 2022 draft seems a bit more realistic. I will not entirely rule out a continued breakout freshman season that leads to him declaring, because it is definitely a possibility and it’s tough to predict fluid situations.
Arizona has a very interesting freshman trio of Mathurin, Azuolas Tubelis, and Kerr Kriisa (not cleared yet) that could be very entertaining and real prospects for the 22′ and/or 23′ NBA Draft.
Here’s a highlight montage from his freshman season thus far:
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Categories: NBA Draft