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Arizona wing Bennedict Mathurin to return for sophomore season

arizona-wildcats-bennedict-mathurin-nba-draft-return-sophomore-tommy-lloyd-2021-wing Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Another piece of the puzzle is in place for Arizona’s first season under Tommy Lloyd, and it’s an important one.

Bennedict Mathurin, who had a strong freshman year in 2020-21, will return for his sophomore season according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

The 6-foot-7 Mathurin went from relatively unknown to a potential one-and-done NBA prospect after averaging 10.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists while shooting 47.1 percent overall and 41.8 percent from 3-point range. He started 12 of 26 games, scoring 20-plus points three times including 31—tied with Jemarl Baker Jr. for the most by a UA player under Sean Miller—at Oregon State on Jan. 14.

Mathurin’s midseason surge started to get him noticed by NBA scouts, and the firing of Miller had a chance of further pushing him in that direction. But he was on hand for Lloyd’s first workout last week, and his return ensures Arizona will have three of its top five scorers back for 2021-22 along with forwards Azuolas Tubelis and Jordan Brown.

While Arizona has lost five players from last year’s team, the most notable being Baylor-bound point guard James Akinjo, Mathurin’s return means the Wildcats won’t have any players leave early for the NBA Draft for the first time since 2015-16.