BOSTON (CBS) — After a two-day visit to Boston, Markelle Fultz sounds ready to become a Celtic.
“It almost feels like I belong here,” the 19-year-old told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman while touring the TD Garden on Tuesday.
The likely No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, Fultz officially becoming a member of the Boston Celtics seems like a mere formality at this point. He underwent medical tests with the team and met with staffers on Monday before a solo workout at the Celtics’ practice facilities on Tuesday. He even finished his visit with a film session with head coach Brad Stevens.
When his 48 hours in Boston were over, Fultz reflected on the experience.
“My visit here was great. It was a good experience,” he said. “First of all, I came here, did some medical stuff at the doctors, a physical. I went out to eat later that night [with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge], that was a good experience just seeing the food culture here, got a good burger.
“Today, just being able to go up and have a blessed opportunity to play the game of basketball, first of all, then just working out for the Celtics, being able to work out, and show them what I have and at the end we did a nice little conditions test, the three-minute run, and just sitting down and watching game film, and film of myself, and how the team plays defense and offense and just learning more stuff about myself from film. Now, just coming to see the arena, and the city, it’s just unbelievable,” he said, adding that he wasn’t sure if he’d be working out for any other teams ahead of the draft.
Fultz’s excursion through Boston included a close-up look at the 17 championship banners that hang in the Garden (“There’s a lot,” Fultz said of them), not to mention the 21 jersey numbers that have been retired by the franchise. Fultz joked that he used to play as the Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen Celtics when he fired up his video games as a kid, adding that he would love to don Allen’s old No. 20 if his next jersey happens to be green.
“I would want to wear No. 20, just because a lot of history behind that number, through high school and college,” he said. “[But] it doesn’t really matter about the number; it matters about what I do.”
While many on the east coast didn’t have the opportunity to see Fultz put up 23.2 points a night for the Washington Huskies, Ainge is very familiar with what the point guard can bring to the floor.
“He’s talented,” said Ainge. “I didn’t find anything today that I didn’t already know, which is the same case with almost every draft workout. … He has a personality, has some charisma, he’s fun.”
In typical Ainge fashion, he wouldn’t tip his hand on whether or not the C’s will be drafting Fultz before anyone else comes off the board on June 22. He said there is still plenty of work to be done before the Celtics are on the clock, and the rumor mills will tell you the chance remains that another team may dangle a disgruntled superstar in hopes of landing a franchise player for the future. Even though nearly every mock draft has Fultz going to the Celtics on draft night, you just never know with “Trader Danny.”
“It helps us to get to know more [about the player]. Sometimes it makes [a final decision] harder, sometimes it makes it easier,” Ainge said of the meeting with Fultz. “I don’t know, we’re not done. We’re still in the process. We still have other players to see. Time will tell.”
Fultz has made it clear that he wants to be the first player taken this year, but said being the No. 1 overall pick never came up during his visit.
“They didn’t put that out there. I gotta earn everything,” he said. “Just talking to them, we didn’t really talk about me getting drafted or anything like that, but more about me being a better young man, no matter where I go. Just what’s going to make me the best player I can possibly be.”
Hopefully Fultz has the chance to be the best he can be in Boston, another promising young player they can add to a 53-win team, both for the now and for the future.