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You can say nobody did more over the course of a three year span than Markelle Fultz, the #1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Let’s flashback about 36 months ago when Markelle Fultz wasn’t good enough to play varsity basketball at Dematha High School as a sophomore. How did an undiscovered 15 year old go from a JV hoops players to a 5 Star Recruit to the #1 pick in the NBA draft in 3 years? With the help of a 4-5 inch growth spurt from the end of his freshmen year to beginning of his junior year, college scouts began to take notice. His AAU team, the DC Blue Devils joined the Under Armour League and his exposure to top level college scouts increased.
What’s the saying, “luck is where opportunity meets preparation.” There was nothing lucky about Markelle’s situation. Failing to make the varsity squad fueled his rise to the top. There was another basketball player that failed to make his basketball team as a sophomore, he went onto win a National Championship with UNC, 6 NBA Rings with the Chicago Bulls, numerous MVP’s, and a few scoring titles. And we know him as the G.O.A.T. I am not saying Markelle Fultz is the next Michael Jordan but just making a comparison that if you have the mindset that you won’t let anybody or anything deter you from reaching your goals, anything is possible. Markelle worked countless hours on his game every week and that work ethic, determination, and self-confidence got him to where he is today, the first player selected in the NBA Draft.
There are 1,000s of stories about athletes overcoming the odds and achieving their goals they just don’t receive the same publicity as the big stars. I have always been a fan of the underdog, Rudy walking on to the Notre Dame football team, Vince Papali making the Philaelphia Eagles, the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team beating Soviet Union, and well my own story. I was a bench player for my high school soccer team, not recruited by a single college coach and I went on to be one of only 3 players in my graduating class to play Division I Soccer. It was nothing more than having confidence in what I was capable of and a boat load of hard work. I didn’t rise to the same level Markelle did but for me it was a great accomplishment.
When it came to decision time to select a school for Markelle, he chose to attend the University of Washington passing on offers from Kentucky, UNC, Kansas and many others. We all know the success the players have in the NBA who attended those schools. It could have been an easy decision for him but he wanted to design his own path and that’s exactly what he did. He stuck with the Huskies because they were with him from the beginning. When he entered his freshmen year he was considered a Top 6 NBA prospect, not too bad for a kid 3 years ago wasn’t even sitting on the bench in a high school varsity game. He had a phenomenal freshmen year at UW, averaging 23 points, 5 rebounds , 5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. At 6’4, and a 6’9 wing span and insane handles, NBA scouts took notice in a hurry. In 3 years Markelle went from a 5’9 JV basketball player to a Freshman standout at the University of Washington to the #1 pick in the NBA Draft.
You would think a rise that quickly would change someone especially a 19 year old, not Markelle. His rise to stardom has not changed him a bit, he is as humble as ever and his work rate is unmatched. He has had to work for everything he has earned and there’s no reason to stop now.
Markelle, is being touted as the last piece of the puzzle for the 5 year Process the Philadelphia 76ers fans have endured. As a Sixer fan myself I am excited to watch his development in the league and help the 76ers return to the glory days of Dr. J and Bobby Jones.
Good Luck Markelle, we are all pulling for you.
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