SEABROOK – After graduating from DeMatha Catholic High School in the spring of 2016, Markelle Fultz continued his basketball career at the University of Washington – more than 2,700 miles and 40 hours away from his hometown of Upper Marlboro. After Thursday night’s NBA Draft, Fultz will begin his professional career a lot closer to […]
SEABROOK – After graduating from DeMatha Catholic High School in the spring of 2016, Markelle Fultz continued his basketball career at the University of Washington – more than 2,700 miles and 40 hours away from his hometown of Upper Marlboro.
After Thursday night’s NBA Draft, Fultz will begin his professional career a lot closer to home. A short two-hour trip up I-95 to be exact.
The Philadelphia 76ers selected Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, making him the first DeMatha alumnus to ever be chosen with the top pick. Before Fultz, Danny Ferry (1989, Los Angeles Clippers) and Victor Oladipo (2013, Orlando Magic) were the highest DeMatha products to be drafted at No. 2. Now, Fultz stands in a category all by himself.
“It was unbelievable,” Fultz said after being chosen No. 1. “It is truly a blessing; something I have been dreaming about. Last night I was sitting down just thinking about hearing my name called. It was unreal. Once I heard my name called it was like God calling me. I am just happy.
“Anything you do, stick with it no matter what goes on. Even if something is not going your way you still have to stick with it. I think that is what I have done my whole life between high school and college.”
The 6-foot-4, 195-pound point-forward became a household name his junior year (his first on varsity) with the Stags when he averaged more than 16 points-per-game and was named Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Player of the Year. He then took the next step his senior year, posting numbers of 19.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.3 assists while leading the Hyattsville-based school to a record of 32-5.
In his one and only season with the Huskies, Fultz continued to put up the numbers that showed he could do a little bit of everything from the guard position. Although Washington finished with a 9-22 record, Fultz averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks while shooting 47 percent from the field and 41 percent from behind the arc. He scored in double figures in every game but one, and tallied a season-high 37 points against Colorado. While he never recorded a triple-double, he did come close on four occasions.
The scoring average was the most by any Washington player since the 1950s and the third highest average a college freshman has posted since 2000 (Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant). Fultz also became the first player in the last 25 years to average 20-5-5 and shoot at least 40 percent from the field.
Mike Jones, the head basketball coach at DeMatha, said he and the Stag family couldn’t be any more proud of Fultz.
“We are very proud, but I think it is more of an indication of Markelle and his work ethic,” Jones said. “Obviously we are very proud of the fact that he spent his high school years with us and whatever small part we had in his development – we are just extremely proud of him. We are all going to be his biggest fans as he takes this next step in his life.”
Jones was Fultz’s mentor for his maturing years and was humble in describing what this accomplishment means to him.
“Pride is the word that comes to mind,” Jones said. “People ask about our pro guys a lot and honestly I don’t know if I have ever really grasped the significance of it, or at least until I stop coaching. As a coach, everything is moving so fast at this time of year. I am running a camp right now, but I plan on going up Thursday morning, being at the draft, and then coming right back for camp Friday morning.
“But personally, I can’t possibly have more pride for him. I am so happy for him and his family because I do know what their journey has been like and I do know how hard he had to work to get where he is.”
For Fultz, his professional journey begins now. And it may be the sweetest ride of them all.