Philadelpia 76ers tab Markelle Fultz with No. 1 pick of NBA draft

By Larry Fleisher, The Sports Xchange  |  June 22, 2017 at 9:58 PM
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NEW YORK -- Markelle Fultz was once cut from the varsity team in high school and now he is the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft.

The Philadelphia 76ers selected Fultz with the top pick Thursday night at Barclays Center, doing so less than a week after acquiring the pick from the Boston Celtics.

The Los Angeles Lakers took UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick.

Fultz, the former Washington point guard, averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 25 games in his only collegiate season. Fultz shot 47.6 percent from the field, made 41.3 percent of his 3-point attempts, reached double figures 24 times and set a school record for points by a freshman with 579.

The performance at Washington capped a meteoric rise on the amateur level for Fultz. Cut from the varsity team as a sophomore at DeMatha Catholic High School in 2013 because he was only 5-foot-9, Fultz dominated opponents on the junior varsity level then continued his stellar performances in his final two years at high school.

When Fultz was cut from the high school team, the Celtics recently acquired the pick from the Brooklyn Nets in July 2013. The Celtics were looking to rebuild after six seasons with Kevin Garnett paired with Paul Pierce and the Nets were looking to win instantly in their second season in Brooklyn.

Neither side anticipated the deal would become so lopsided in favor of the Celtics but the Nets posted the league's worst record last season, setting in motion the chain of events leading Fultz to become a 76er.

Fultz was all set to become a Celtic but on Monday the pick was officially dealt to Philadelphia. The deal was first reported on Saturday and when it was apparent the trade was going to occur, Fultz quickly worked out for the 76ers.

Now Fultz officially is a member of the 76ers and the latest young piece in a rebuilding plan dubbed by former GM Sam Hinkie as "the process."

Last season, the 76ers held the top pick for the first time since drafting Hall of Famer Allen Iverson in 1996 and selected Ben Simmons. Simmons injured his foot in training camp and never played while the Sixers improved their win total by 18 games to 28.

Now the franchise is hoping for more with the trio of Fultz, Simmons and entertaining center Joel Embiid.

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