At 15, Indiana Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin had an adult decision to make.
Stay home in Montreal.
Or leave family and enter the NBA Academy Latin America in Mexico City.
“At first, I was like, ‘Nah, I’m not going there because I didn’t know what to expect,’ ” Mathurin told USA TODAY Sports. “But as I dug a little more and did my research, it might be one (of) the greatest opportunities of my life. Playing at the NBA Academy waslike (a) foot in the door to the NBA.”
Mathurin barged through that door.
The No. 6 pick in the 2022 draft, Mathurin is the second-leading rookie scorer at 19.1 points per game and the top 3-point shooter (48-of-115 for 41.7%) among rookies who have attempted at least 40 3s. He also flourishes in the open court and has the size and quickness at 6-5, 210 pounds to take hits and become a solid defender.
“The one thing that I’m so impressed with him is he’s just undaunted,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said after Mathurin scored 30 points against Denver on Nov. 11. “He continues to play his game. Doesn’t get down. Continues to have a strong belief in his abilities. He’s an attacker. He’s a rare young player that’s just unfazed.”
Headed for first-team All-Rookie, Mathurin, 20, is also a Rookie of the Year candidate and Sixth Man of the Year candidate, a rarity for a first-year player.
Mathurin is a significant reason why the 12-9 Pacers are one of the surprise teams in the East.
“The key is staying the same – staying as aggressive as I am and staying hungry,” he said. “Every day is an opportunity to step on the court. Every day is an opportunity to make a statement. I’ve kept the same mentality.”
NBA Academy ‘making dreams come true’
Indiana Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin, a Rookie of the Year candidate, attended the NBA Academy in Mexico.
The NBA Academy played a major role in Mathurin’s development. In 2016, the league opened its first academy as a year-round elite basketball development program for top high school age players. Now, there are academies in India, Senegal, Mexico and Australia. While working on basketball and life skills, players…
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Author : USA TODAY Sports
Publish date : 2022-12-01 13:25:41
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