Kelsey Plum and Markelle Fultz grew up on opposite sides of the country, and they’re three years apart in school. Yet, in their one year together at the University of Washington, the two basketball stars formed a special bond.
Plum became the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft on Thursday, capping off a historic career as the first Washington player to be selected with the top pick. The San Antonio Stars’ newest guard is the all-time leading scorer in women’s college basketball with 3,527 points in her four years with the Huskies.
Fultz played one season in Seattle before declaring for June’s NBA Draft. While he didn’t claim any National Player of the Year awards like Plum, Fultz did earn All-American honors after averaging 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.
Thursday night at Samsung 837 in New York City, Fultz was among the many friends and family on hand to support Plum.
— WNBA (@WNBA) April 14, 2017
In an interview with WNBA.com at the draft, Fultz explained why he admires Plum so much.
“She’s a hard worker. She spends endless hours in the gym,” Fultz said. “If she puts her mind to it, I think she can do anything. I’ve seen her this year say she’s going to do something, get in the gym and work, and then go out and do it. So I have a lot of faith in her.
“She motivated me every day. I had some late nights in the gym, and she would be there too, so it motivated me to see someone working as hard as me. It motivated me to push even harder.”
— Markelle Fultz (@MarkelleF) April 13, 2017
The admiration is mutual, as Plum detailed during an interview with ESPN.
“We’ve been able to become really close this past year, just because we can relate on a lot of different levels,” Plum said. “I love the way he works, and he’s extremely humble. He’s been super supportive of our team. He came to a lot of our games this year.”
Fultz is widely regarded as one of the top prospects in this year’s NBA Draft. If he goes No. 1 overall like Plum, it would be the first time a school has produced the top pick in the NBA and WNBA drafts the same year.
Plum happens to believe that will be the case in two months’ time.
“I think he’s the best player, and he should go No. 1,” she said to ESPN. “But I’m proud of him regardless of what happens.”