Markelle Fultz has a Twitter account. That alone means he has seen the criticism from fans who question whether his knee is actually too sore for him to play, or whether the Washington Huskies guard is simply shutting his season down to maintain his health in preparation for this year’s NBA draft, in which he is projected to be the No. 1 pick.
But Fultz, the star freshman who again sat out UW’s season-ending, 78-73 loss to USC on Wednesday in the Pac-12 tournament, said he finds such speculation comical.
“It’s kind of funny, because they sound stupid,” Fultz said of those who question the legitimacy of his injury. “Anybody that knows me knows that I’m going to play basketball no matter what. If I’ve got a broken foot, I’m going to go try to play, but the doctors stopped me from playing. If it was up to me, I’d be out there hooping with a broken hand, broken anything. It’s kind of funny for me to hear that.”
Fultz, who missed six of the Huskies’ last eight games, said his knee swells up “almost every other day. I really can’t push on it because I don’t want it to be something worse than it already is. I’ve just got to take time off. I’ve been playing basketball since I was a kid, almost every day, so I’ve got a lot of miles on my body.”
UW coach Lorenzo Romar said Wednesday night that Fultz is being held out for long-term purposes, and that he “probably could have played” in the short term.
“But you don’t want to do more damage,” Romar said. “You don’t want something that’s very minor to blow up to be something more.”
As far as his impending draft decision, Fultz, the Pac-12’s leading scorer, said he plans to discuss it soon with his mother and UW’s coaches. It would be a major surprise if he decided to return to UW for his sophomore year.
“I’ve got a lot of thoughts,” Fultz said. “The season’s over now, so I don’t really have to worry about the season anymore. Going to factor in everything and sit down and talk about it.”