University of Washington standout freshman Markelle Fultz made history on Thursday night as he was drafted as the number one overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Fultz is the first Husky to be drafted number one and the first player in the Pac-12 to go first since Bill Walton (UCLA) did in 1974. Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) is the only other Conference of Champions member to earn a no. 1 pick as he was selected in 1969.
Additionally, with Fultz‘ number one pick, Washington becomes the first school in the history of the NBA and WNBA Drafts to have the top pick in both, as Kelsey Plum went first in April to the San Antonio Stars.
Upon hearing his name called, Fultz said, “It was unbelievable really. Truly a blessing, something I’ve been dreaming about. Last night I was just sitting down thinking about hearing my name called and it was unreal really, once I heard my name called, it was like God calling me so I’m just happy.”
Fultz is the Huskies’ 10th first round pick since 2005 and is the 16th since the draft switched to just two rounds in 1989. He is the sixth first round pick since 2002 for the Dawgs and the third over the last two Drafts as Marquese Chriss (Phoenix Suns, pick No. 8) and Dejounte Murray (San Antonio Spurs, pick No. 29) were both first round selections a year ago.
“The 76ers are getting a guy that has an NBA frame already,” said ESPN’s Jay Bilas. “He’s got great length and he’s a three-level scorer. He can score from deep, he can score from middle range and he can score at the rim. He’s got great body balance and by far in this draft, he’s the best pick and roll ball handler in the draft.
He’s essentially a James Harden clone on the offensive end. He’s got a quick high release on his shot. He had some Lebron type blocks where he chases guys down from behind but to have a guy like this where offensively he’s really got no holes in his game, he’s a multi-dimensional scorer that once he comes off the pick and roll he can change speed, change direction and an excellent finisher around the basket. He’s long, he’s strong and the kid knows how to play. He’s also an excellent passer, averaging almost six assists per game.”
Fultz, a native of Upper Marlboro, Md., had a stellar freshman season at Washington earning third team All-American honors from both the AP and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), becoming the first Husky to be named an All-American since Isaiah Thomas in 2011. He was also a Sporting News Freshman All-American, a Pac-12 First Team All-Conference and All-Freshman selection and a USBWA All District XI honoree.
The guard was the nation’s leading freshman scorer averaging 23.2 points in 25 games, which also ranked sixth overall in the NCAA. Fultz also led the Pac-12 in scoring by almost five points, giving UW the league’s scoring crown for the second-straight year.
He set the UW freshman scoring record with 579 points and was second on the freshman list in assists (148), tied for fifth in blocks (30) and was fifth in steals (40). He recorded five 30-point scoring efforts which rank tied for fifth all-time at UW and were the most in a single season. Additionally, his 18 20-point games during the 2016-17 campaign rank tied for third all-time at UW.
In the last 15 drafts, at least one Husky has been selected in all but three years (2008, 2013, 2015). Additionally, the Dawgs have had 55 overall picks in the NBA Draft.