Canadians Benedict Maturin and Shadeon Sharp had very different paths to the NBA, but their professional dreams came true on Thursday in just a few minutes.
The 20-year-old Maturin from Montreal, who starred at the University of Arizona, was named sixth by the Indiana Pacers. After a while, the Blazers gave Sharp, a 19-year-old from London, Ontario, a chance. He had never played a college match, but it was his seventh pick.
“I feel like a winner,” Maturin said. “I’m a really competitive guy. Outside the courtroom, I feel like a pretty funny guy. I like to do a lot of fun.”
This is the second time in history that two Canadians have been in the Top 10 of the NBA Draft. In 2014, Andrew Wiggins was named Cleveland in 1st place overall and Sacramento in 8th place by Nik Stauskas.
Two more Canadians were back-to-back in the second round. Gonzaga guard Andrew Nembhard headed for the Indiana Pacers at number 31, and Caleb Houstan was chosen by Orlando at number 32.
After two rounds of drafting in 1989, 37 players were selected in Canada. This is the second most abundant country after the United States.
Maturin has joined the Pacers team, which ended 25-47 last season.
The 6’6 Guard / Forward became the first Canadian to attend the NBA Academy in Mexico City in 2018. The draft broadcast showed live footage of the current Academy players supporting him.
After that, Maturin played for two seasons at the University of Arizona, winning the honor of the best player in the Pac-12 tournament, averaging 17.4 points and 5.6 rebounds this year.
He scored 30 points in the second round of March Madness’s big game, helping Arizona defeat Texas Christian University in overtime.
The broadcaster compared Maturin’s game with the Toronto Raptors’ OG Anunoby.
“We have a pretty good team and I look forward to having an immediate impact,” Maturin said. “The staff were really kind when I went there for teamwork out. They feel like they believe in me. It’s great to get people to trust my game.”
Maturin, whose parents are from Haiti and speak English, French, Spanish and Creole, hugged her mother and sister before going on stage at the Barclays Center. He was acclaimed for his burgundy and black floral suit.
Sharp in the 6-6 Wing was a five-star recruit when he entered Kentucky in January. However, he had never played for Wildcats and was expected to change from 2022 to 23, but raised his eyebrows by proclaiming a draft instead. He hasn’t played an important 5v5 action since the high school game in October.
“Going from high school to college and going straight to the NBA without playing the college season is a pretty journey, but at every step of the way I fought and enjoyed it,” Sharp said.
Sharp looks forward to playing with Damian Lillard, the All-Star Guard.
“He’s a great guard himself and he’s been in the league for some time, so I can’t really wait to learn from him,” Sharp said.
Nembad, who was on the Canadian national team at the 2019 China World Cup, spent four years at the NCAA and moved from Florida to Gonzaga for the last two years. Gonzaga was undefeated in the 2020-21 regular season before losing to Baylor in the NCAA final. Bulldogs were eliminated in the third round of the year.
A 22-year-old boy from Aurora, Ontario, performed well in the draft combine last month and dominated one 5-5 scrimmage with 26 points and 11 assists.
Born in Mississauga, Ontario, 19-year-old Houstan averaged 10.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists at the University of Michigan this season.
4 Canadians Selected in NBA Draft (including 2 in Top 10)
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