BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 02/13/2017

Huskies worst team to feature next No. 1 draftee

Markelle Fultz seems primed to become the No. 1 pick in June’s NBA draft. If that happens, Fultz will have played on the worst college team ever to feature an impending No. 1.

The Boston Celtics are likely to make Washington’s Markelle Fultz the NBA’s No. 1 draft pick . / Alan Chitlik, Sportspress Northwest

According to the majority of NBA mock drafts, including these published by ESPN, CBSSports.com, Yahoo, Hoops Hype and nbadraft.net, Washington freshman Markell Fultz will, in late June, become the first pick, by the Boston Celtics. The Huskies have had 15 players taken in round one, including Bob Houbregs at No. 3 in 1953, but have never had a player selected first overall.

Eleven Huskies have been drafted in the first round in the Lorenzo Romar era (since 2002), including Brandon Roy at No. 6 overall in 2007. In 2012 (Terrence Ross, Tony Wroten) and 2016 (Marquese Chriss, Dejounte Murray), two Huskies went in the first round.

So if the mocks are correct, and in the NBA they usually are, Fultz will make some local history. At the same time, so will Washington, although not in a positive way.

Fultz, who missed Washington’s last two games due to a sore knee, is the leading scorer (23.2) in the Pac-12 and the only player in the NCAA averaging 20+ points, five-plus rebounds and five-plus assists. He is also on track to finish with the highest scoring average by a conference player since Cal’s Ed Gray averaged 24.8 in 1996-97.

Fultz has done this on a Washington team that has lost 16 of its 25 games, including an 85-61 setback at Utah Saturday, and will miss the NCAA Tournament for the sixth consecutive season. No breaking news there, but let’s take a short dive into NBA draft history.

It dates to 1947. From then through 1965, many of the drafts included “territorial picks,” in which teams, in an effort to boost attendance, were permitted to select premier local players ahead of the first round.

In 1962, for example, the Cincinnati Royals took Jerry Lucas from nearby Ohio State while the Detroit Pistons selected Dave DeBusschere of the University of Detroit as territorial picks. Then the Chicago Zephrys (now the Washington Wizards) took Utah’s Billy McGill as the official No. 1 overall pick.

The NCAA eliminated territorial picks in 1966. From then until now, the No. 1 overall has overwhelmingly emerged from an elite college program. Twelve came from teams that had won 30 or more games. Example: Elton Brand’s 1998-99 Duke Blue Devils went 37-2 before the Chicago Bulls made him No. 1 overall. Another 11 came from teams that won between 25-29 games. Example: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 1968-69 UCLA Bruins went 29-1 before the Milwaukee Bucks made him the No. 1 overall in 1969.

Of the 51 No.1s since Cazzie Russell of Michigan in 1966, 38 played on college teams that won 20 or more games (74.5 percent), while five others skipped college basketball altogether.

On the flip side, only three No. 1s came from teams that had losing records. Assuming the Celtics take Fultz in that spot, he will have played on the worst team, by total losses and winning percentage, ever to feature an impending top pick.

Number ones who played their final college season on the worst teams:

Year Future No. 1 College Pos. Rec. Pct. Drafted By
2017 Markelle Fultz Washington G 9-16 .360 Celtics
1972 LaRue Martin Loyola-Chi. C 8-14 .363 Blazers
1973 Doug Collins Illinois St. G 7-10 .411 76ers
1977 Kent Benson Indiana C 13-13 .500 Bucks
2016 Ben Simmons LSU F 19-14 .575 76ers
1978 Mychal Thompson Minnesota F 17-10 .629 Blazers
1966 Cazzie Russell Michigan F 17-8 .680 Knicks
1971 Austin Carr Notre Dame G 19-8 .703 Cavaliers

Given how horridly the Huskies have performed, they easily could wind up with 20-plus defeats and, in fact, may have no more wins in them. They have five Pac-12 games remaining, all against teams that have already defeated them this season.

Washington could hold the “record” for worst team performance by a school featuring the next No. 1 pick for, well, decades.


YourThoughts

  • LarryLurex70

    Seattle sports media trying their level-headed best to lap up/perpetuate the Fultz-is-the-greatest-thing-since-sliced-cheese narrative. Looks like their homer glasses work just fine. Sorry, but, with that questionable knee the only way this kid goes first overall is if Lonzo Ball decides to stay another year in Westwood. Even with 2 good knees, Fultz is still runner-up to that guy.

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  • disqus_0fotImVld4

    Why even talk about having a number 1 draft pick if the team is in LAST place?? One and domes are BS for the team. I’ll take the women’s team any day. Or the golf team, or the crew, etc. I hope Seattle U beats the hell out of them next year.

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  • Effzee

    The most lame part about all of this is that he won’t even be remembered as a true “Husky,” you know what I mean? He will have been here for a cup of coffee, having provided virtually nothing to the program or memories of the program. What was the point in even coming here? Free scholarship for a year? The program is literally useless right now. What a waste of resources. Its money pit.

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