The Seattle Pro-Am basketball league, led by Jamal Crawford, tips this Saturday, July 2, at Seattle Pacific’s Royal Brougham Pavilion at noon.
Fultz, much like current Washington sophomore Noah Dickerson, was drawn to the Huskies in part because of the Seattle basketball scene. Starting Saturday, he gets to play alongside the same players Dickerson battled with last summer.
"I hope not, because I'm not going to take it easy on them,” Fultz told Dawgman.com this week when asked if he expects players like Crawford and Isaiah Thomas to take it easy on him. “I hope they are willing to make me a better player, just like I'm trying to make them better players."
Fultz has now been in Seattle about a week and a half as he attempts to settle in to life after high school. He prepped at DeMatha Catholic, outside Washington D.C., but now he’s trying to get used to life in the Washington located clear across the country.
”It's great, just like I expected,” he said. “Just like it was when I came up on my visit. Everybody is friendly. I can't complain. I'm just having a great time."
But his time in the 206 won’t be long this go-around, as Fultz is also representing his country. As part of the United States’ U18 team, Fultz will join his teammates for training camp in Houston starting July 11 before heading to Valdivia, Chile for the FIBA Americas U18 Championship July 19-23.
It’s not a given Fultz will end up going to Chile, as U18 Head Coach Shaka Smart (Texas) has to cut the team from 18 to 12 after the Houston camp, but Scout’s No. 3 overall player nationally stands an excellent shot at making the cut.
In the meantime, Fultz has been in Seattle since the last U18 training camp, getting to know his Washington teammates and working on his craft.
"It's just been basketball since I've been here,” Fultz said. “When I'm not with the team I'm in the gym getting my shots up, working on my game. There's a lot of good food places out here, stuff like that.
"I miss home a little, I'm not going to lie. I'm not homesick, I just miss my parents. I'm used to being on the road, it's part of basketball. It's just another part of me becoming a man, so I'm just taking advantage of every opportunity I have."
Fultz is very close to his family, so he has created a daily ritual. He sees his mother every morning via Face Time and then again at night before she goes to sleep.
“I do it early because it's three hours difference,” Fultz said.
And when he’s not playing in the summer leagues or getting ready to put on the stars and stripes, Fultz is practicing with the Huskies. Their last organized practice was before the start of the college summer league, so he’s seen a glimpse of what this year’s hoop dawgs could be like.
"Our chemistry is great,” said Fultz. “Sam Timmins is a great screener. Noah (Dickerson)...everybody's getting along well. The fact that we're competing and getting a lot better...I mean, we're going to shock a lot of people this year. It's going to be good."
Another reason Fultz chose to play for the Huskies over schools like Louisville and Arizona is Lorenzo Romar. “He's a man of his word,” he said of his new head coach. “He's treated me the same ever since I was on my visit and he's pushing me hard to be the best player I can be.”
Washington fans will get another opportunity to see Fultz in person Saturday at the Seattle Pro-Am, but he will definitely make another appearance at the Northwest College Summer League too before heading to Texas.
"I just came out here to give the fans a taste and get ready for the season,” said Fultz. “I needed some running against some different people other than my teammates...just to see what it's like playing out here, and I really enjoyed it. It was fun."
To say Fultz’s performance was effortless wouldn’t do him credit. But it looked like he never got through all of his gears. Down 10 points at one stage of the first half, Fultz rallied his team - a team that including UW teammates Noah Dickerson and Dominic Green, as well as ASU-bound Sam Cunliffe - to a convincing 30-point victory. And he did it with style, throwing down tomahawk-style dunks and too many three-pointers to count.
With all that said, Fultz’s best attribute just might be how he gets his teammates involved in the game.
"Markelle is a specimen,” said Dickerson after the win. “Markelle is a freak of nature. He's a great playmaker, he's a great passer. Even when you're not open, he thinks you're open. He sees you.
"Just from practicing a little bit I had to always be ready. Sometimes I'd roll to the basket and I'll stop to get the ball and he's already thrown the pass like you're going to break open. You have to be ready."
Washington fans better be ready too. The unveiling of Markelle Fultz at Alaska Airlines Arena is coming soon.