Markelle Fultz, the top freshman scorer in Washington history, became the highest-drafted Huskies player Thursday, going No. 1 to Philadelphia.
After swapping picks with the Boston Celtics and giving up a future first-rounder to get him, the Philadelphia 76ers selected Markelle Fultz No. 1 in Thursday’s NBA draft, held at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn (two-round list here). Fultz is the first University of Washington player taken with the first pick. Washington is the first school to produce the No. 1 picks in the NBA and WNBA drafts in the same academic year.
The San Antonio Stars selected Washington guard Kelsey Plum, the top scorer in NCAA Division I history, with the first pick in the WNBA draft last month.
“This was unbelievable, really truly unreal,” said Fultz, after the 76ers made the predictable pick.”Truly a blessing, something I’ve been dreaming about. Last night I was just sitting down thinking about hearing my name called. It was like God calling me when I heard my name.”
“The 76ers are getting a guy with an NBA frame,” said ESPN analyst Jay Bilas. “He’s the best pick-and-roll player in he draft. Offensively, he’s got no holes in his game. He’s a James Harden clone. He’s 6-foot-4 and has a 6-10 wingspan.”
Since its trade with Boston earlier this week to secure the Fultz pick, Philadelphia has sold more than 14,000 season tickets.The 76ers also changed their marketing sloan to, “Welcome to the Moment.”
After the 76ers selected Fultz, the Los Angeles Lakers selected UCLA’s Lonzo Ball. Fultz is the first Pac-12 player to go No. 1 since UCLA’s Bill Walton in 1974.
With the 10th pick, the Sacramento Kings selected Gonzaga freshman forward Zach Collins, the first one-and-done in Zags’ history. Collins did not start a game during the 2016-17 season.
“There’s no way I can explain how this happened,” Collins told ESPN.
A native of Upper Marlboro, MD., Fultz played only one season at Washington. He saw action in 25 games and averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds 5.9 assists and 1.2 blocks while shooting 47.6 percent from the field, 41.3 percent from 3-point range and 64.9 percent from the free throw line.
Fultz reached double figures scoring in all but one game and set the UW freshman single-season points record with 579. His five 30-point scoring efforts are tied for fifth all-time at UW and are the most in a single season. Fultz finished the year ranked sixth in the NCAA and first in the Pac-12 in scoring. He was the nation’s top freshman scorer.
Before the 76ers selected Fultz, the highest-drafted Huskies player was C-F Bob Houbregs, an All-America and NCAA Player of the Year in 1953 who went No. 2 to the Milwaukee Hawks, who became the Atlanta Hawks.
Fultz is the 14th Husky taken in the first round, the eighth selected among the first 10 picks (see below), and the 12th to go in the first round in the Lorenzo Romar era (2002-17).
Fultz is also the first ex-UW player taken in the first round by Philadelphia since Chris Welp in 1987.
Washington fired Romar, now assistant coach at Arizona, at the end of the 2016-17 season after the Huskies finished 9-22 with 13 losses in a row. Fultz played on the worst college team, by both total losses (22) and winning percentage (.290), to feature a No. 1 pick (next worst: 1972 Loyola-Chicago, 8-14, .363, LaRue Martin).
With pick No. 55 in the second round, the Utah Jazz took Nigel Williams-Goss, the 6-3 transfer from Washington who led Gonzaga to its first Final Four.
Washington’s first-found NBA draft picks