Arizona Basketball

One, Two, Three: NBA Calls Three Cats on Draft Night

It was the power of three for the University of Arizona men’s basketball team.

Bennedict Mathurin.

Dalen Terry.

Christian Koloko.

All taken in the 2022 NBA Draft on Thursday night. There wasn’t much suspense for Mathurin, the star of Arizona’s three as he went No. 6 in the first round.

Terry, who bet on himself to go in the first round, did, going No. 18 to the Chicago Bulls.

And center Christian Koloko went to Toronto with the 33rd pick.

Mathurin and Terry give Arizona two of the top 18 draft picks in the same draft for the first time since 1998 (Bibby, 2, Michael Dickerson, 14).

And, for the first time in program history, the Wildcats had three of the first 33 picks in the NBA Draft.

Just like that Arizona had one of the better nights when it comes to schools and their players taken. Only Duke – for another college team – had more players taken than Arizona.

It’s the second time in three seasons UA has had three players taken in the draft in one year. In 2020, Zeke Nnaji, Josh Green and Nico Mannion went in the draft.

Mathurin, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, was projected to go in the top 10 most of the last couple of months while it wasn’t clear where Terry or Koloko would land. But they landed in great spots.

Terry told Chicago reporters he was going to remember those players taken before him so in 10 years he’ll know who did well and do didn’t. In the meantime, he said he’ll help the Bulls’ defense and his offense will come thereafter.

“My defense, my versatility is going to come over immediately,’’ he told reporters. “My energy, my leadership, all that, my grit, all those things that just make me who I am are going to keep me in this position starting tomorrow.’’

Terry held a predraft party in Scottsdale to celebrate what eventually turned into a dream come true. He had a number of former teammates show up as did head coach Tommy Lloyd.

In New York, where Mathurin was for the draft, told ESPN after getting drafted that Indianapolis was getting “my heart, man. They’re getting everything from me, from the jump to the end. They’re getting everything.”

In a Zoom press conference with media in Indianapolis, Mathurin said, “Hearing my name being called by the Pacers, it’s really great for me. We have a pretty good team. I can say ‘we’ because I’m a part of it now. … I’m looking forward to having an impact right away.”

Mathurin turned 20 on Sunday and said getting drafted was a pretty good present to himself, courtesy of the Pacers.

Mathurin celebrated his 20th birthday Sunday and said being drafted was “the best birthday gift I could’ve asked for.”

“I feel like off the court I’m a pretty funny guy,” Mathurin said, describing himself. “… But mostly on the court, just winning. I feel like I’m a winner, and I’m a really competitive guy, so just coming to the team the first day of practice, it’s gonna be really cool because I like to compete.”

Lloyd is expected to meet with local media members to discuss the draft on Friday.

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