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Former Arizona wing Bennedict Mathurin wins NBA Rookie of the Month award

arizona-wildcats-bennedict-mathurin-indiana-pacers-nba-rookie-monthly-award-october-november Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

If Bennedict Mathurin’s first month-plus as a professional basketball player is any indication, he’s going to have a long and successful career.

The former Arizona Wildcats star, now playing for the Indiana Pacers, has been named NBA Rookie of the Month for the Eastern Conference. The award comprises both October and November, since the 2022-23 season began midway through October.

Mathurin, picked sixth overall in the 2022 NBA Draft by the Pacers, is averaging 19.2 points per game while shooting 40.3 percent from 3-point range and 81.4 percent from the line. He’s second among rookies in scoring average, behind No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic, but his 403 total points are tops among first-year players.

And he’s done that entirely from off the bench, playing 28 minutes per game as a reserve. He’s had 11 20-point games and twice scored 30 or more, including 32 in a road win over the Brooklyn Nets on Oct. 29.

Indiana, which went 25-57 in 2021-22 is 12-9 this season and currently fourth in the Eastern Conference Standings. They’re in the middle of a season-long 7-game road trip, sitting at 1-2 (win a win over the Los Angeles Lakers in which Mathurin outscored LeBron James) heading into Friday’s game at Utah.

Mathurin averaged 14.8 points per game in two seasons with Arizona, including 17.7 in 2021-22 en route to winning Pac-12 Player of the Year. His 655 points last season are ninth-most in UA history.