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Arizona basketball went into the 2022 NBA draft hoping to accumulate three first-round picks for the first time ever. This didn’t happen but anytime a school produces 3 of the top 35 picks it’s a good day.
It started off early with the Indiana Pacers selecting sophomore small forward Bennedict Mathurin with the sixth overall pick.
This is a good landing spot for Mathurin as he will have young surrounding perimeter talent with point guard Tyrese Haliburton and shooting guard Chris Duarte.
With Halliburton already showing he is an NBA starter and cerebral facilitator and Duarte showing starting shooting guard potential, Mathurin should slide in nicely to that small forward spot
The improvement Mathurin made from his freshman to sophomore year is impossible to ignore.
Now capable of scoring from anywhere on the court, Mathurin is a near elite 3-point shooter and a player who could project anywhere from Jason Richardson to Bradley Beal-scoring potential.
The guess here is that Mathurin settles in as a 10-year NBA starter, hovers around an efficient 18 points per game and is a plus defender when engaged.
But the potential is there to hit on a much higher level and that is what makes Mathurin such an intriguing prospect.
Kudos to Dalen Terry and NBA scouts for doing their due diligence on each other. Selected 18th overall by the Chicago Bulls, Terry may never be a superstar but there are too many physical attributes to ignore combined with being a very high character player.
It’s rare to see a 6-foot-7 wing with elite level passing skills, and ballhandling ability that can moonlight as point guard caliber.
Terry’s shooting form needs work. And that is understood by all parties. Working in Terry’s favor is the timeliness with which he made 3-pointers and being a willing learner.
The Bulls possess an interesting roster with point guard Lonzo Ball and possibly guards Zach Lavine and Coby White.
Terry’s upside is off the charts but as NBA players go he is still unrefined and it will likely take a year or two before he becomes a regular contributor.
But he will get there.
The guess here is that Terry becomes a jack-of-all-trades high-level role player in the mold of former Arizona great Andre Iguoudala.
There was hope that junior center Christian Koloko would hear his name selected somewhere near the end of the first round but he ended up in a perfect landing spot early in the second round with the Toronto Raptors.
Koloko could see early playing time as the Raptors might be moving on from 3-point specialist/shot-blocker extraordinaire Chris Boucher.
Equally important for Koloko is the stability of the Raptors organization as Coach Nick Nurse is one of the better coaches in the NBA combined with one of the most impressive young rosters in the league.
The Raptors are also good enough that Koloko won’t have to play immediately, which will give him time to work on his strength and refine his shot.
Improving his shot will be imperative for Koloko to see early playing time.
This NBA draft was a huge success for Arizona basketball and Tommy Lloyd. In one year, Lloyd has returned Arizona basketball to elite status and now has the recruiting pitch of producing multiple first-round picks in his first year at Arizona, which will only help on the recruiting trail.
For Wildcat fans the future has never been brighter.
Follow Mike Luke on twitter @ironmikeluke
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