At one point this summer, John Fulkerson was receiving up to 15 phone calls a day from anxious recruiters trying to gain an edge on his decision. The Scout three-star forward racked up more than 20 offers during his recruitment process, but now Fulkerson has chosen his top three finalists: Charlotte, Georgia and Tennessee.
The 6-foot-8, 190-pounder visited UGA last weekend and soon after decided to whittle his potential choices down to those three schools.
“I’m just trying to find the place where I fit in the most and where I feel comfortable,” Fulkerson told InsideTennesee. “I really like all three of them, so I can’t say I'm looking for a place that I like because I really like all three. I want a place where I fit in and feel comfortable, and then a place where the coaches and players have a good relationship.
A Kingsport native, Fulkerson is no stranger to the Vols. He’s attended his fair share of Tennessee football and basketball games over the years and has a chance to make playing for the school he grew up cheering for a reality.
“Always being a Vol fan and having that, ‘Oh, it would be cool to play basketball there’ vibe and having that be a reality, that’s cool,” Fulkerson said. “The thing about Tennessee, like I said, always liking Tennessee, how could you not consider it? Coach Barnes is a great guy and I think his belief system and faith system is really something I like.”
Associate head coach Rob Lanier became Fulkerson’s main recruiter, with family, friends and even strangers attempting to help Lanier sway his potential new player to stay home and play for the Vols.
“I guess there is pressure. I have a lot of friends that go to UT and a lot of parents that would like for me to go there, and family friends, stuff like that,” he said. “Of course I’ve been getting a lot of, I wouldn’t say bad stuff, but like, ‘Oh, you’d look good in orange’, ‘We would love it if you went to UT’, ‘Orange would look good on you’, stuff like that. I’m trying not to let that persuade my decision."
Despite the mounting pressure to stay in his home state, Fulkerson is also weighing two other intriguing offers from experienced head coaches who have been recruiting him just as hard. Georgia associate head coach Philip Pearson and head coach Mark Fox have captivated the senior’s attention, as has Charlotte head coach Mark Price.
“What really stood out to me at Georgia is the coaching staff and the players, really,” Fulkerson told IT. “Coach Pearson, that’s been the one recruiting me, I’m really impressed with him, but also coach Fox. Not only on the court, but off the court too, he’s such a great guy and easy to talk to. His coaching style and style of play really fits me well.”
With Charlotte, Fulkerson appreciates the NBA pedigree of Price, who spent the two seasons prior to taking over with the 49ers as an assistant coach with the Charlotte Hornets.
“Coach Price knows what he’s doing because he did player development for the Hornets,” Fulkerson said. “Now that he’s a head coach, he’s going to recruit good players and then he’s just going to develop them into better players, so that’s good.”
Fulkerson has also spent time talking with Scout three-star shooting guard and Charlotte commit Quinten Jackson, who spurned offers from Kansas State, Mississippi State and Tennessee, among others, to sign with the 49ers.
“I talked to him a lot about his decision,” Fulkerson said. “I think getting to get to talk to him about it was really helpful because he had other big offers too from big schools recruiting him, but he chose Charlotte, so that was cool getting to talk to him and why he made his decision.”
The class of 2016 product, who cites his versatility as a floor manager as his biggest on-court asset, plans to make his decision the first week of November.
At the end of the day, Fulkerson is looking for somewhere that will assist him in achieving his dream of playing in the NBA.
“I think all three places I could go to could help me out with that, especially coach Price since he’s been there,” Fulkerson said. “Coach Barnes, he’s coached players that have gone there and a lot of players from Georgia have gone there also. I think all three of those places could help me successfully do that.”