CHICAGO — Leon Rose’s Knicks have been linked to Kentucky, but perhaps soon they can be linked to Canada by adding a second player from the Great White North.
Bennedict Mathurin, the athletic Arizona wingman who is from Montreal, worked out with countryman RJ Barrett last summer in Florida, talked Knicks in French and can see being teammates with him in New York.
Mathurin interviewed with the Knicks on Thursday during the NBA Draft Combine.
“It would be fun, to be honest,” Mathurin said when asked about playing for the Knicks. “A lot of people coming to the games. I played in front of Tucson and it’s kind of crazy, but playing in front of the Garden would be so crazy. They have good players, RJ, Julius [Randle]Immanuel [Quickley]they have pieces, a pretty good team with talent.”
The 19-year-old has done 10 combine interviews so far.
“It went pretty good,” Mathurin said. “All the interviews are pretty different. Coach Tom [Thibodeau], he’s a little bit different. We had a pretty interesting meeting. They told me about the players they had and [asked] if I had watched any of their games. It was mostly about getting to know each other.”
Mathurin watched a handful of Knicks games, particularly to watch Barrett’s breakout year.
Mathurin, who used to play hockey as a defenseman, knows Barrett, out of Toronto, across the years. He wants to be part of Canada’s rise as an NBA hotbed.
“His French was a little bit rough because he’s been in New York but it’s actually pretty good,” Mathurin said. “For sure, everyone from Canada would be to great play with — and play against.”
The Knicks select 11th and Mathurin could go a couple of spots sooner after his solid sophomore season at Arizona in which he averaged 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 36.9 percent from 3.
“I think my shooting is the biggest part of my game,” Mathurin said. “I think I’m a two-way player. I think I’m able to showcase, to get a stop defensively and have an impact both ways.”
Mathurin just wants it known in these interviews that for all his flash, he’s a hard worker. Mathurin is known for an insane poster dunk in the NCAA Tournament against TCU when he went for 30 points and hit the game-tying 3 to send the game to overtime. A No. 1 seed, Arizona was bounced by Houston in the Sweet 16.
“Just know that I’m a serious person about what I do,” Mathurin said. “I’m a winner. I hate losing. So my work ethic is what brought me here. I’m going to keep doing it.”
Not only did Mathurin play hockey — his country’s favorite sport — but also football as a receiver.
“I felt hockey really helped me just by being more dominant, put something on my shoulders,” Mathurin said. “But football as well. I played hockey before football, they both helped me to be a little more physical, show people what I do.”
There are a lot of players Marthurin compares himself to, including Mikal Bridges, whom the Knicks famously passed on with 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 woebegone Knicks, who have won one playoff series since 2001, will take any of them. Mathurin could be a good small-forward fit alongside Barrett as he’s more athletic.
“I’m all about asking [them] who they’re looking to draft — my position basically,” Mathurin said. “How they’re going to impact me on the team and how they’re going to help me bring winning to the team. As I am a winner, I’ll be able to impact both ways, defense and offense.””