On the east coast, DeMatha Catholic High School has been one of the biggest basketball beds since the 1970's. Over the last 40+ years, the school has the likes of Adrian Dantley, Keith Bogans, Victor Oladipo and the duo of Jerian and Jerami Grant. That lineage would put more of a bullseye on that school as college teams around the country try to find that next standout recruit. Despite the attention that's drawn to DeMatha, one prospect was still able to come out nowhere to become one of the most promising players in the country.
Despite his best efforts, Hyattsville, Maryland native Markelle Fultz wasn't able to land on DeMatha's varsity squad until his junior season. While he impressed DeMatha varsity head coach Mike Jones during the varsity tryout as a sophomore, Fultz was moved to the JV squad due to the team's depth of veteran talent. In a 2015 interview with SI, Jones stated that it would've difficult to give Fultz significant playing time due to the team's top scorer, Corey Henson, who filled in the same position as Fultz.
After a solid summer where he was one of the elite players in Las Vegas' Fab 48 tournament, Fultz was finally able to land on DeMatha's varisty squad where he absolutely flourished. Putting up 16.8 points, 7.9 boards and 4.3 assists per game, Fultz regularly held his own--and often outperformed--prospects that had a much bigger overall profile. That fantastic play pushed Fultz to be heralded as a five-star prospect by ESPN, which is extremely rare for a player with only one year of varsity experience.
Deciding to continue to build off that added exposure, Fultz spent the summer between his junior and senior season with long-time trainer Keith Williams. In that span, Fultz stated in that same SI piece, that the time with Williams helped improve his athleticism, tighten his handle, define his jumper and just get a better understanding at how to play on both ends of the court.
That off-season work with Keith Williams could've been one of the best moves in Fultz's young career. The reasoning behind that was how each thing that Fultz worked on during the off-season ended up as some of his strengths once the senior season began.
In regards to his athleticism and handle, Fultz has developed into an extremely fluid player that constantly looks one move ahead of the competition. That's evident in his role as an on-ball cutter, as Fultz uses an insanely quick first step to drive right past the perimeter defender. Even when he's not able to blow past an opponent, Fultz can use his tight crossover to shake the defender out of his shoes. For such a young player, Fultz looks very calm as an on-ball cutter, as he knows when to put down a sensational slam or just get the safe bucket with a layup.
Alongside that, Fultz has developed into a pretty deadly knockdown shooter, as he can either work in the catch-and-shoots or off-the-dribble. Fultz looks comfortable with moving off-ball and working around screens, as he's able to quickly get to his spot on the court. Once he does, Fultz can use his extremely quick release to launch up the shot before his defender can work around the off-ball screen. While it's a short sample size, Fultz's progression is shown by him shooting 37% during the three high-school all-star games (McDonald's All-American, Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit) that he participated in during the spring.
Perhaps the most promising aspect of Fultz's game is his work as a facilitator. Despite his role as DeMatha's biggest scoring threat, Fultz wasn't afraid to share the ball with the other guys on the court. That unselfish mentality is evident from how Fultz actually looks to distribute the ball whether he's working in the pick-and-roll or driving towards the paint. The way that Fultz can read the court and make spot-on decisions is extremely impressive for a incoming college freshman.
On the defensive end, Fultz displays a lot of upside. First off, his lanky 6'9 wingspan mixed with his athleticism gives him potential to effectively defend both guard positions. Alongside that, Fultz has continued to speak out on about how much he loves to play defense, as he said the following in a Washington Post piece in 2015:
"I love playing defense; it really gets me going," Fultz said. "I feel like I can guard most positions and I just want to be able to do whatever I can to help my team."
In one of the most loaded recruiting classes in recent memory, Fultz has established himself as the best one. Both 247sports and Scout have him as a top-5 player in the class, while Scout has him listed as the best point guard in the country.
That acclaim will put a lot of pressure on Fultz's shoulders as he transitions to the college game and to play with the Washington Huskies. With the loss of stud freshmen Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray, Fultz will probably be asked to be the team's main scorer on opening night. While both himself and the Huskies will probably go through some initial growing pains as they try to meld as a singular unit. Despite some of the struggles that could be coming his way, Markelle Fultz definitely has the skill and basketball IQ to be one of the best guards in college basketball.