Markelle Fultz’s rise to stardom has been rapid. In 2014, he was playing junior varsity basketball in high school. Just three years later, he’s almost certainly going to become the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, and if he gets to start his pro career by calling Philadelphia his new home, he’ll be living roughly a 2 1/2-hour drive from his hometown of Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Philadelphia and Boston have agreed in principle on a trade where the 76ers would acquire the chance to take Fultz with the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft.
“It would be pretty cool. Just being with a young team,” Fultz said. “The upside of it would be crazy. I’m close to home, so a lot of my family can come out and just show love. This city has great fans.”
The trade has not yet been formally approved by the league; however, the Celtics will get the No. 3 pick, plus an additional first-rounder in either 2018 or 2019. The agreement between the Celtics and 76ers was struck not long after Fultz worked out for Philadelphia on Saturday evening. Once the trade goes through, Philadelphia will own the NBA’s No. 1 selection for the second straight season.
Barring any other changes before Thursday, the first four spots in this year’s draft order would mirror the first-four from last year: Philadelphia at No. 1, the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 2, Boston at No. 3 and Phoenix at No. 4.
Fultz visited the 76ers in an arranged get-to-know-you session, with the workout and meeting with team officials on his itinerary. That visit was essentially the final hurdle to clear before Boston and Philadelphia could decide to actually consummate the trade.
“I don’t really pay attention to everything that’s going on,” Fultz said. “I’m truly blessed to be in this position. Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to taking my talents to wherever I go.”
The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 25 games during his lone college season at Washington, excelling on a team that finished 9-22 and lost its final 13 games. Fultz led the Pac-12 in scoring and finished No. 6 among all Division I players, and was the top freshman scorer in the country.
Fultz is apparently going to get taken one spot better.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to help any team I go to win,” Fultz said.