On the way into the NBA Draft Lottery last month in Chicago, Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan felt a tap on the shoulder. He turned around and saw that it was Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin and his agent.
Mathurin's agent told Buchanan that they thought he could be a great fit in Indiana. After the lottery unfolded and Indiana received the sixth overall pick, Mathurin chatted with another high-ranking Pacers staffer -- head coach Rick Carlisle.
"It was obvious from our end that he viewed this as a great fit," Buchanan said "...It was likewise on our end. It just felt right."
Sure enough, the Pacers selected Mathurin with their first pick on Thursday night.
The 6-6 guard averaged 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game last season as a sophomore for the Wildcats. Mathurin, who turned 20 on Sunday, was named Pac-12 Player of the Year and a consensus second-team All-American.
Mathurin will add to Indiana's impressive collection of young talent on the perimeter, forming a formidable trio with 22-year-old Tyrese Haliburton and Chris Duarte, the 13th overall pick in last year's draft.
“Just having my name being called by the Pacers, it’s really great for me," Mathurin told the Indianapolis media via Zoom on Thursday night. "I feel like we have a pretty good team – I can say we, I’m a part of it now…and I’m looking forward to having an impact right away."
Mathurin is of Haitian descent, but was born and raised in Montreal. When he was 16, he left home to attend the NBA Academy Latin America in Mexico City, where he spent two years before enrolling at Arizona. Mathurin is fluent in four languages - French, Creole, Spanish, and English.
“We’re very excited that we were able to select Bennedict with the sixth overall pick in the Draft tonight,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard. “This is a player that we have targeted for quite some time because we believe he has the ability to contribute immediately and become a key part of our foundation moving forward.
“As I mentioned after the NBA Draft Lottery, we intend to aggressively and proactively explore all options that we feel are in the best interest of our team, both in the short- and long-run. We will continue to be diligent in our efforts to improve across the board, not only over the course of this evening but throughout the off-season.”
Mathurin visited Indiana for an individual workout with the Pacers on June 10. He said the workout went really well and he left with strong desire to end up in Indiana.
"Just the staff in general," Mathurin said of what resonated with him during his visit. "The staff was really good to me when I went there for my team workout. I feel like they really believe in me."
"Tomorrow I'm going to wake up and be a Pacer," he added. "Just having the chance to play with Tyrese, Chris and the other guys on the team is going to be fun."
Pacers Draft Bennedict Mathurin
The Pacers were also impressed by Mathurin during his visit. Buchanan said that Mathurin went through the planned workout, showered, and went out to eat with the team brass. He then elected to go back to the Ascension St. Vincent Center, where he worked out again, this time with Carlisle.
“He’s a very feisty, bulldog, gritty competitor," Buchanan said of Mathurin. "He’s not afraid to challenge his teammates, he’s not afraid to challenge the opponent, and he’s not going to back down. As a rookie, you’ve got to have some of those traits to survive in the NBA."
Mathurin is Indiana's highest selection in the draft since 1988.
"I feel like I’m a winner," Mathurin said. "I’m a really competitive guy. So just coming to the team, first day of practice, it’s going to be really cool. I like to compete."
Bennedict Mathurin Post-Draft Media Availability
With the first pick in the second round and the 31st overall selection, the Pacers selected Gonzaga point guard Andrew Nembhard. Nembhard, 6-5 guard, worked out for Indiana on June 15.
A native of Ontario, Nembhard dished out 324 assists over the past two seasons for the Zags, maintaining a 3.2 assist-to-turnover ratio. He spent his first two college seasons at Florida before transferring to Gonzaga.
Nembhard averaged 11.8 points and ranked 15th in the NCAA with 5.8 assists per game last season as a senior. He shot it well from both 3-point range (38.3 percent) and the free throw line (87.3 percent) while also forcing 1.6 steals per game defensively.
“Andrew Nembhard is a player that we have liked for a long time as well," Buchanan said. "Very cerebral point guard with great size, a great feel for the game. Makes plays for others, toughminded, calm, but competitive.
"Just a winning player. That’s what we’re trying to add to this organization – as many talented players that are about winning. Andrew fits that to a T."
2022 Draft Workouts: Andrew Nembhard
The Pacers also acquired the 48th overall pick from Minnesota for a 2026 second-round selection. Indiana used the 48th pick to select Baylor forward Kendall Brown.
The 6-8, 200-pound Brown averaged 9.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists while shooting 58.4 percent from the field in his lone college season. He started all 34 games he played for the Bears.
Brown is a native of Cottage Park, Minn. and turned 19 on May 11.