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Markelle Fultz is turning pro

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Fultz heading to NBA

NCAA Basketball: Washington at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

To no surprise, UW Freshman Markelle Fultz has announced that he’s entering his name into the 2017 NBA Draft.

The statement from Fultz via Christian Caple:

Here’s Fultz telling you himself:

Fultz was hampered by a knee injury which had him sit out the last several games. Still, he was the Pac-12 leading scorer averaging 23.2 points per game in 25 games. He also averaged 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game. Due to the knee injury, Lonzo Ball, not Fultz, won Pac-12 Freshman Player of the Year. Both players will likely go 1 and 2 in the NBA Draft.

NCAA Basketball: Washington at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

For those wondering, Boston (via a trade with the Nets) and the Los Angeles Lakers are the projected top two picks in the NBA Draft. Can you imagine a Fultz-Thomas back-court in Boston?

Despite what you think of “one and dones,” Fultz appeared to be a true teammate and selfless player. Free throws might be the only glaring criticism but that can be worked on. Note, Isaiah Thomas had issues at UW with FTs and now he’s shooting near 91% in the NBA. Having watched him on TV and in person it was clear that he was that much better than his teammates. In a couple years, we’ll look back and wonder how he could have been on a team that only garnered 2 wins in the Pac-12 Conference.

Which leads to the issue of whether playing for a losing team hurts his chances in the draft. Sam Vecenie wrote a piece for Vice Sports where he asked 7 NBA front office talent evaluators whether Fultz playing for a bad team hurt. Three said no, while the other four had a variety of responses from concern to pause.

In a Sports Illustrated article earlier this season featuring UCLA’s talented Freshman, Lavar Ball, Lonzo’s dad, encouraged his son to play pickup ball with a team of players that were not as good as the team they were facing. “[i]f you win with these guys, you’ll win with anybody,” Lavar told his son. Essentially, the opposite of how NBA stars think when choosing teams (sorry KD). This way, Lonzo could learn how to elevate his team while enhancing his own game.

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Washington
The only head-to-head battle between Fultz and Ball
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

I pause to pick on Fultz for not elevating the talents of his team. This isn’t the IMA.

But, it’s interesting that Vecenie points out that of the 51 “one and dones” since 2006, not a single player’s college team finished with a worse record than this year’s UW team.

More damaging, only six players’ teams missed the NCAA tournament: Spencer Hawes, Anthony Randolph, Noah Vonleh, Nerlens Noel, Ben Simmons and Marquese Chriss.

Vecenie points out that the aforementioned players that were lottery picks were not picked No. 1 except for Simmons.

Which leads us to the fact that we recognize Hawes and Chriss on this list as lottery picks that did not make the tournament. This point again to Lorenzo Romar’s ability to recruit talent but inability to produce tournament appearances. This theory may be tested again next year if he remains to coach Michael Porter, Jr.

Fultz will be a great pro and credit him for taking a chance in playing across the country far from home. Despite his short-time on Montlake, his commitment to play for the Huskies might make way for other recruits to come to Seattle.

Let’s just hope they can turn the talent into tournament appearances.