It’s fair to say that DeMatha basketball standout Markelle Fultz is on the fast track.
Fultz, a 6-foot-5 guard, was a virtual unknown at the beginning of last summer. He’d failed to make the DeMatha varsity as a sophomore and wound up playing for the Stags’ junior varsity squad in 2013-14.
With a breakout summer last year, he put himself on everyone’s list of topflight college basketball prospects. He did nothing to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm during this past regular season, leading another excellent DeMatha team in scoring with a 16.5-point average. Fulz also averaged more than seven rebounds and four assists per game. He was named the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year, a rare honor for a non-senior.
Schools like North Carolina, Kentucky, Arizona, Georgetown, Maryland and Louisville all courted the Upper Marlboro, Md. resident.
Last Friday, Fultz announced that he was forsaking all of the big-name schools to play at the University of Washington – a decision that must have led to a lot of head-scratching.
The Huskies have had some good years under head coach Lorenzo Romar, but the program doesn’t have the pedigree of some of the other schools who pursued Fultz. In fact, the Huskies haven’t made an NCAA trip since 2011. But that didn’t deter Fultz.
“The main reason I am going to Washington is my connection with Coach Romar,” Fultz said in an ESPNU interview. “I trust his plan for me, I feel like I fit into their system.”
Fultz also cited a close relationship with UW assistant Raphael Chillious. Fultz told one reporter that he’s so friendly with Chillious, who grew up in Olney and attended Sherwood High School, that the two seldom even talk about basketball. Chillious has also worked as an assistant at Villanova.
ESPN ranks Fultz 21st nationally on its top 100 list. He’s 22nd on Scout.com’s top 100 list and 23rd on Rivals’ top 150 list.
Fultz should have plenty of help at Washington. He’s the second prospect to commit to UW’s 2016 class, joining 6-10 New Zealand big man Sam Timmins. The Huskies also assembled a touted eight-man 2015 class that’s ranked sixth nationally by Scout.com.
Of course, he may not stick around the Pacific Northwest for long. He has already expressed his desire to be a one-and-done college basketball player. At this point, that’s a realistic dream. DraftExpress now has him listed as the No. 5 pick in its 2017 NBA Mock Draft.
That sort of future would have been unthinkable at the end of Fultz’sophomore season. But he’s grown 4 to 5 inches since then and blossomed on the AUU circuit last spring and summer. As a member of the D.C. Blue Devils, along with stops at Adidas Nations and the Under Armour All-American Camp (where he led players by averaging 22.8 points), Fultz stood out among other top prospects with his quick first step, smooth play and scoring ability.
Over the years, DeMatha players – whether coached by the legendary Morgan Wootten or successor Mike Jones – have been known for their basketball smarts as well.
Jones has been quoted as saying that Fultz will likely see time at point guard this winter, drawing on the ballhandling and passing skills he has polished during the spring and summer. Many of the top scouting services have listed him as a shooting guard up to this point.