Canadians Mathurin, Sharpe picked back-to-back in NBA Draft

By Sportsnet staff

For only the second time in history two Canadians have been selected in the top 10 in the NBA draft.

Montreal’s Bennedict Mathurin was selected sixth overall by the Indiana Pacers while Shaedon Sharpe of London, Ont., was selected seventh overall by the Portland Trail Blazers.

“I feel like I’m a winner,” said Mathurin. “I’m a really competitive guy. Off the court, I feel I’m a pretty funny guy. I like doing a lot of fun stuff.”

The 20-year-old Mathurin finished his sophomore season with the Arizona Wildcats capturing the Pac-12 Player of the Year award and earning first-team All-Pac-12 honours. The 6-foot-6, 205-pound wing was also named a second-team All-American by The Associated Press.

He competed in the 2021 FIBA Under-19 World Cup and scored a game-high 31 points during Canada’s 101-92 win over Serbia in the bronze medal match.

Sharpe, a six-foot-five swingman, was considered the draft’s mystery man, having not played competitive basketball in more than a year.

He registered at Kentucky for the second semester of the 2021-22 year, but did not play.

He was the No. 1 high school player in his class after putting up 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 12 EYBL club games.

Sharpe also has national team experience, helping Canada win silver at the 2019 FIBA Under-16 Americas Championship.

“Going from high school to college and not playing your college season and then straight to the NBA, it’s quite the journey. But every step of the way I’ve just fought and had fun with it,” said Sharpe, who added he was looking forward to playing with all-star guard Damian Lillard.

“He’s a great guard himself and he’s been in this league for some time now, so I just can’t wait to really learn from him.”

The last time two Canadians were taken in the top 10 was 2014 when Andrew Wiggins was taken first overall by Cleveland, and Sacramento took Nik Stauskas with the No. 8 pick.

Highest picked Canadian-born players in NBA Draft history:

  • Anthony Bennett (#1, Cleveland, 2013)
  • Andrew Wiggins (#1, Cleveland, 2014)
  • Bob Houbregs (#3, Milwaukee Hawks, 1953)
  • RJ Barrett (#3, NY Knicks, 2019)
  • Tristan Thompson (#4, Cleveland, 2011)
  • Bennedict Mathurin (#6, Indiana, 2022)
  • Shaedon Sharpe (#7, Portland, 2022)
  • Nik Stauskas (#8, Sacramento, 2014)

Andrew Nembhard of Aurora, Ont., and Caleb Houstan of Mississauga, Ont., – two other high-profile Canadian prospects – were also selected with back-to-back picks at the start of the second round.

Nembhard, a first-team All-WCC honours and the WCC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award with Gonzaga, will join Mathurin as the Pacers selected him with the 31st pick. The 22-year-old guard already has experience with Canada’s senior team competing in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

One pick later Houstan was taken by the Orlando Magic, who used the first overall pick to select Paolo Banchero.

The 19-year-old Houstan averaged 10.1 points per game on 42.6 per cent shooting during his freshman year at Michigan and was also a member of Canada’s bronze medal-winning squad at the U19 World Cup.

The Toronto Raptors, who traded its first-round pick along with Goran Dragic at the trade deadline for Thaddeus Young and the eventual 33rd overall pick, used the selection to take Christian Koloko.

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