Markelle Fultz and Kelsey Plum make history as No. 1 picks
For the first time, the year’s top NBA and WNBA selections came from the same school
When the San Antonio Silver Stars selected University of Washington star point guard Kelsey Plum with the first overall pick in April’s WNBA draft, by her side during the moment was fellow Washington point guard and top NBA draft prospect Markelle Fultz.
After the selection, Plum and Fultz posed for a photograph in which the two friends each held up their index fingers, signifying Plum’s No. 1 selection.
Months later, the picture, and simple raising of fingers, held much more significance.
The Philadelphia 76ers selected Fultz with the top pick in the 2017 NBA draft, making him and Plum the first No. 1 selections in history to be drafted from the same school in the same year. (The inaugural WNBA draft took place in 1997.)
— espnW (@espnW) June 23, 2017
In the thick of the WNBA season, Plum was unable to attend the NBA draft but immediately showed her support for the new Sixers point guard:
I can't even begin to express how proud I am of my best friend/ brother😭😭😩🙏🏼. Philly got a STAR @MarkelleF #F2G
— Kelsey Plum (@Kelseyplum10) June 22, 2017
The tweet didn’t mark the first time either player posted about each other on social media with the hashtag #F2G. After walking across the Barclays Center stage, Fultz opened his suit jacket, where the definition of his motto “Faithful to the Grind” was stitched. Fultz gives Plum credit for shaping part of that grind during his freshman season at Washington.
“Me and Kelsey Plum are like sister and brother. Me and her spent endless hours in the gym working. I talked to her almost every day. I just talked to her a couple days ago,” Fultz said the day before the draft. “It would be the first time ever that two No. 1 picks came from the same school. That’s definitely history for both of us. It just shows how much work we put in. We’re just rooting for each other.”
From their countless workouts in Seattle, the eventual one-and-done Fultz said he picked up one thing in particular from the seasoned 22-year-old Plum, the all-time leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball.
“The biggest thing: not getting down on myself. Me, honestly, when I’m in the gym working out by myself, it’s times when I get down, and she was just there to motivate me, telling me not to get down,” he said. “Just to hear that from another great player and to know she truly means it.”
In the gym together, Fultz would rebound for Plum, before their competitive natures would clash in games of H-O-R-S-E.
“Well, I’ve actually proven that I’m a better shooter than him. We’ve dueled it out a couple times. If he tries to tell you that he is, it’s a lie,” Plum joked with ESPN’s Neil Everett in April before she was drafted.
Fultz’s response: “We’ve shot before, and I’m the better shooter, just to let you guys know, but I’ma let her feel like she is, because I’m not that mean. If you wanna keep your money, I would bet on me, but if you wanna give away some money, then, yeah, bet on Kelsey.”
Regardless of who’s really the better shooter, both strokes led to the glory of No. 1 selections.