Bennedict Mathurin had just three scholarship offers coming out of high school. The Canadian wing went down to Mexico City when he was 16 to join the NBA Academy Latin America. “I always believed in myself,” Mathurin told reports at the NBA Draft Combine in May. “Not a lot of people believed in me when I was younger, so that’s always been pushing me to prove them wrong.”

After his freshman season at Arizona ended, the coaching staff changed. Mathurin had a new team with whom he’d have to build faith. But under Tommy Lloyd, Mathurin didn’t just grow, he blossomed into one of the Pac-12’s best players.

When he declared for the NBA Draft, it was obvious he’d be one of the top names off the board early on.

Thursday night, that’s exactly what happened.

Mathurin has been selected sixth overall by the Indiana Pacers.

The 6-foot-7 wing has a combination of size, athleticism, and shot-making unmatched by the other guards at the top of this year’s draft. The potential for what he could become—having not yet turned 20—is bolstered by the fact he’s already produced at an elite level.

Mathurin earned the Pac-12’s Player of the Year award this past season. He was a consensus All-American, a first-team all-conference selection, and the Most Outstanding Player at the Pac-12 Tournament. As the top name on the scouting report every night, Mathurin scored 18 a game to help lead Arizona to 33 wins, both the Pac-12 regular-season and tournament championships, and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

He also averaged 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists a game. The 655 points he scored on the season ranked as the ninth-most in Arizona history, and Mathurin got there with rather efficient shooting. As the team’s go-to scorer, Mathurin shot 45% from the floor and 37% from the 3-point line. And he raised his play in the postseason, averaging 20 points across the Pac-12 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.

Mathurin finished the season as the second-leading scorer in the Pac-12. He also led all conference players in offensive win shares and offensive box plus/minus.

A hooper’s hooper, Mathurin told reporters following Arizona’s loss to Houston that he wasn’t thinking about the NBA or any decisions or anything other than getting back in the lab. “The next step for me is to get in the gym and get better,” he said. “Whatever the future has for me it has for me. That’s basically it.”

All season long it looked like that future would feature the NBA. That future is finally here.

In Indiana, Mathurin provides a fascinating backcourt partner for Tyrese Haliburton. The Pacers are a team in search of a star, but they’re also a team in flux as they look to rebound from last season’s 25-57 showing. From 2010 to 2020, Indiana made the playoffs nine out of 10 seasons. Last year marked the second straight season the Pacers have missed the postseason.

One of the team’s longest-tenured guards, Malcolm Brogdon, has been involved in trade discussions so far this offseason. His situation is one to monitor when trying to project what Mathurin’s rookie season will look like. Whether it’s a rotational role early or a starting spot out of the gates, Mathurin projects as a guy who will be able to put the ball in the hoop immediately.

A supremely confident scorer, he gets his buckets in a variety of ways. Mathurin will pull up off the dribble or work off-ball, cutting to the open space or coming off screens to free himself for a shot. He’s a terror in transition. He’s also a player who has the “it” factor when the ball’s in his hands. He’s unafraid of the pressure that comes with carrying an offense in the clutch, and delivered in some key spots for the Wildcats last season.

Mathurin is the Wildcats’ highest-drafted player since former center Deandre Ayton went first overall in the 2018 NBA Draft. He’s the fifth top-10 pick for the Wildcats since 2014. No other Pac-12 team has more than two over the same span.