Canadians Bennedict Mathurin and Shaedon Sharpe were selected back-to-back in the first round of Thursday’s NBA draft.
Mathurin, a 20-year-old from Montreal, was selected sixth by the Indiana Pacers.
Moments later, the Portland Trail Blazers took Sharpe, a 19-year-old from London, Ont., at No. 7.
It’s only the second time in history that two Canadians have gone in the top 10 in the NBA draft. In 2014, Andrew Wiggins was taken first overall by Cleveland, and Sacramento took Nik Stauskas with the No. 8 pick.
Mathurin and Sharpe took very different paths to the draft.
Mathurin, a 6-6 guard, became the first Canadian to attend the NBA Academy in Mexico City from 2018-20. He then played two seasons at the University of Arizona, winning the Pac-12 Tournament’s most outstanding player honours, and averaging 17.4 points and 5.6 rebounds a game this year.
He scored 30 points in a big game in the second round of March Madness, helping Arizona beat Texas Christian University in overtime.
WATCH | Mathurin, Sharpe go back-to-back picks:
Broadcasters compared Mathurin’s game to the Toronto Raptors’ OG Anunoby.
Sharpe hasn’t played a significant five-on-five game since last fall.
He joined the Kentucky Wildcats in January, but never played a game, and then raised eyebrows when he declared for this year’s draft.
Magic take Banchero 1st, Holmgren, Smith follow
The Orlando Magic selected Duke freshman Paolo Banchero on Thursday night with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.
After leading the Blue Devils to the Final Four in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final season, the 6-foot-10 forward was called first by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to begin the draft, beating out fellow first-year forwards Jabari Smith Jr. and Chet Holmgren.
Banchero, wearing a purple suit full of bling, received a loud ovation inside Barclays Center, where Duke lost in the ACC Tournament final.
The Magic were picking first for the fourth time and they’ve done well with their previous choices. They took Shaquille O’Neal in 1992, traded the rights to Chris Webber for Penny Hardaway the next year, and went with Dwight Howard in 2004.
All eventually reached the NBA Finals with the Magic.
Holmgren went second to the Oklahoma City Thunder after the 7-footer led the West Coast Conference in blocked shots, rebounding and shooting percentage at Gonzaga. He looked sharp in his black suit but may need it to eventually be a bigger size for success in the NBA, as he’s listed at just 195 pounds.
The Houston Rockets took Smith at third, happy to end up with a player who many thought would end up going first. The 6-10 forward from Auburn is a natural fit in the current NBA game, able to defend all three frontcourt positions and with a shooting stroke that allowed him to hit 42% behind the arc.
Forward Keegan Murray, after a huge leap in his second season in Iowa, jumped all the way to the No. 4 pick by the Sacramento Kings. The Detroit Pistons, a year after taking Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 pick, took athletic Purdue guard Jaden Ivey fifth.
Before the selections began, Silver congratulated the Golden State Warriors on their recent NBA championship and reminded fans that their core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green was built through the draft.
All the teams at the top of this draft need help and have recent high picks already on their rosters, so will hope the Warriors way works for them as well.