Christian Koloko lives with Bennedict Mathurin but often loses track of his roommate.
“Sometimes I’m getting home and I’m looking for Benn, Benn is not here, Benn’s at the gym shooting,” Koloko laughed. “So I think that’s what makes him a good shooter. And I hope he’s gonna continue to make shots.”
Mathurin would have himself a season for the record books if he does. After going 3 for 6 from long range against Oregon State on Thursday, the freshman boosted his 3-point percentage to 46.4% for the season.
That is the highest mark by an Arizona player since Brendon Lavender shot 48.4% from 3 in 2011-12 (minimum 10 shots). The only other Sean Miller-coached player who has been better is Derrick Williams, who made 56.8% of his 74 3-point attempts in 2010-11.
Mathurin was not a five-star recruit, or really even known for his shooting coming out of NBA Academy Latin America, but he’s not surprised by his proficiency.
“Not really because I’ve been in the gym,” he said. “My shot was not really as good as it is right now at the beginning of the season, but I have just been in the gym before practice and after practice just working on my shot with the coaches and just keep getting reps.”
Miller said Mathurin is Arizona’s most improved player this season, noting that he has not missed a single day of practice.
But hard work is one thing. Talent is another. Mathurin has that going for him too.
“Well, Benn has the gift of size when he shoots,” Miller said. “He’s 6-5, and he has a really compact shot. In other words, it doesn’t take a lot of time for him to catch and shoot. And he just seems to take good ones. A good shot for him, he really can see over the defense. Like a lot of really good shooters, and you guys have seen quite a few over the decades here at Arizona, the ones that seem to be in in their own category, they just can kind of rise over the defense and shoot it. Salim Stoudamire, maybe he wasn’t like that because he’s not as tall, but I think Salim had that range and that quick release that almost allowed him to get it off that. Benn’s size and compact shooting really allows him to get it off.”
Mathurin isn’t just a spot-up shooter, either. Against Oregon State, he slithered around a screen and used a hesitation dribble to get his defender on his heels, generating enough space to step back and sink a long 3.
The move had Matt Muehlebach ready to jump out of his chair. The former Wildcat was calling the game for the Pac-12 Network and guffawed when Mathurin swished the shot. 18-year-olds aren’t supposed to be able to do things like that.
“I’ve come from a long way,” Mathurin smiled. “I’ve been working on that shot for a long time, so I thought it was the right play to make. I was really confident taking that shot.”
If there is one difference between Mathurin and some of the elite shooters Arizona has had in the past is that he is more selective. He is hoisting about 3.5 triples per game, which is about half as many as Gabe York took in his senior year and about one fewer than Lauri Markkanen averaged in his lone season with the Wildcats.
That is part of the reason Mathurin’s shooting percentage is so high. At the same time, the Wildcats would like to get him more looks.
“He doesn’t take bad shots,” Miller said. “So much of a shooting percentage is taking good shots, and we have to do a good job of finding him. Because when we do, he knocks them in.”
Every 40+% 3-point shooter in the Sean Miller era
- Derrick Williams, 2010-11: 42-74 (.568)
- Brendon Lavender, 2011-12: 55-113 (.487)
- Bennedict Mathurin, 2020-21: 32-69 (.464)
- Jordin Mayes, 2010-11: 39-86 (.453)
- Kyle Fogg, 2011-12: 72-162 (.444)
- Kadeem Allen, 2016-17: 32-75 (.427)
- Lauri Markkanen, 2016-17: 69-163 (.423)
- Parker Jackson-Cartwright, 2016-17: 30-71 (.423)
- Gabe York, 2015-16: 98-233 (.421)
- Kevin Parrom, 2010-11: 38-91 (.418)
- Parker Jackson-Cartwright, 2017-18: 50-120 (.417)
- Grant Jerrett, 2012-13: 32-79 (.405)
- Jamelle Horne, 2010-11: 43-107 (.402)
- Gabe York, 2014-15: 66-165 (.400)
I asked Sean Miller where he would rank Benn Mathurin's 3-point shooting and he said Mathurin is Arizona's most improved player.— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) February 12, 2021
"Benn has the gift of size...and he has a really compact shot. And he just seems to take good ones."
(Mathurin is up to 46% on the season.) pic.twitter.com/ikCo1E0HHt