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Bennedict Mathurin could form Knicks’ Canadian pipeline

CHICAGO — Leon Rose’s Knicks have been linked with Kentucky, but perhaps they can soon be linked with Canada with the addition of a second player from the Great White North.

Bennedict Mathurin, the athletic Arizona wingman who hails from Montreal, trained with compatriot RJ Barrett in Florida last summer, spoke French with Knicks and could see himself teammates with him in New York.

Mathurin interviewed the Knicks during Thursday’s NBA draft combine.

“It would be fun, to be honest,” Mathurin said when asked about playing for the Knicks. “A lot of people come to the games. I played before Tucson and it’s kinda crazy, but playing before the Garden would be so crazy. They have good players, RJ, Julius [Randle]Emmanuel [Quickley]they have characters, a pretty good team with talent.”

The 19-year-old has conducted 10 combine interviews so far.

Bennedict Mathurin #0 of the Arizona Wildcats shoots a free throw during overtime against the TCU Horned Frogs in the second round game of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Viejas Arena at San Diego State University on March 20, 2022 in San Diego, California.
Bennedict Mathurin could form a Canadian pipeline with RJ Barrett if the Knicks pick him in the NBA draft.
Getty Images

“It went pretty well,” Mathurin said. “All the interviews are quite different. Coach Thomas [Thibodeau], he’s a bit different. We had quite an interesting meeting. They told me about the players they had and [asked] if I had seen one of their games. It was all about getting to know each other.”

Mathurin watched a handful of Knicks games, particularly to see Barrett’s breakout year.

Mathurin, who used to play hockey as a defender, has known Barrett from Toronto over the years. He wants to be part of Canada’s rise as an NBA hotbed.

“His French was a bit shaky because he was in New York, but it’s actually pretty good,” Mathurin said. “Surely anyone from Canada would be great to play with – and play against.”

Bennedict Mathurin poses for a portrait during the 2022 NBA Draft Combine Circuit on May 17, 2022 in Chicago.
Arizona product Bennedict Mathurin hails from Montreal.
NBAE via Getty Images

The Knicks pick 11th and Mathurin could be a few spots up after his solid sophomore season in Arizona, during which he averaged 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists while averaging 36.9 percent from 3 shot.

“I think my shooting is the biggest part of my game,” Mathurin said. “I think I’m a two-way player. I think I can present myself, stop defensively and make a difference either way.

Mathurin just wants to let you know in these interviews that despite his glory, he’s a hard worker. Mathurin is known for an insane poster dunk in the NCAA tournament against TCU when he scored 30 points and hit the game-winning 3 to send the game into overtime. Arizona, a No. 1 seed, was rebounded by Houston in the Sweet 16.

“You just have to know that I’m serious about what I do,” Mathurin said. “I’m a winner. I hate to lose. So my work ethic got me here. I’ll keep going.”

Mathurin not only played hockey – his country’s favorite sport – but also football as a receiver.

“I felt like hockey really helped me just by being more dominant and putting something on my shoulders,” Mathurin said. “But also football. I played hockey before football, both of which helped me to be a bit more physical and show people what I do.

There are plenty of players Marthurin compares himself to, including Mikal Bridges, who the Knicks famously passed by the ninth pick in 2018.

He also listed Devin Booker and Zach LaVine for their offensive flair and Jrue Holiday and Bridges for their defensive acumen.

The hapless Knicks, who have won a playoff series since 2001, will take any of them. Mathurin could be a good small forward alongside Barrett as he is more athletic.

“I just want to ask [them] who they want to call up – basically my position,” Mathurin said. “How they will influence me on the team and how they will help me to help the team win. Since I’m a winner, I’ll be able to play both ways, both defensively and offensively.”

https://nypost.com/2022/05/19/nba-draft-bennedict-mathurin-could-form-knicks-canadian-pipeline/ Bennedict Mathurin could form Knicks’ Canadian pipeline

JOE HERNANDEZ

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