HYATTSVILLE, Md. - It was a big night for Upper Marlboro native and DeMatha Catholic High School graduate Markelle Fultz as he was selected with the first overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Fultz will start his NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers and his story is one that began in Maryland as he overcame adversity to ultimately land the top spot in the draft.
By all accounts, Fultz defied statistics to reach the NBA. He is a walking and breathing inspiration to complete strangers and those close to the homegrown talent who packed an NBA Draft watch party at DeMatha Catholic High School.
“It's awesome because I get to tell my friends that my cousin is going number one in the draft,” said David Greene.
“This is amazing,” said Fultz’s cousin, Toya Coleman. “This is a wonderful experience, a blessed moment. I'm very proud of the family. I'm very proud of Markelle, his drive, his dedication to the game. His mother, Ebony – one of the family members that I definitely look up to – I told her all the time that I just admire her drive, I admire her dedication, her commitment to her children.”
For Fultz, the journey to becoming the NBA's next generation of stars had its dim moments. He was initially cut from DeMatha's varsity team. At the time, he was a sophomore and about 5'9”.
“He's committed to the grind,” said Coleman. “That's exactly what it is. You are going to be faced with adversity at all times and you keep going.”
“It's good to see somebody that you care about, one of your brothers, achieve one of their dreams,” said former DeMatha teammate John McCray.
“I think right now he's feeling this is what all the hard work I've done for the last five years has kind of paid off for him,” said Tommy Paolucci, an assistant basketball coach at DeMatha.
There was a lot of buzz on social media about Fultz's fashion choice on this memorable night. He wore a blazer which had a tribute to family, friends and his grandmother who recently passed away. Also, the shoes he was wearing were made of basketballs.