BY CHRIS MCMANES — You can now count Markelle Fultz among the finest players in DeMatha Catholic High School basketball history. And for a program that former coach Morgan Wootten built into a national powerhouse and present coach Mike Jones has maintained among the nation’s elite, that’s saying something.
On Sunday Jan. 17, Fultz was named a McDonald’s All-American. Of the 755 seniors (boys and girls) who were nominated, only 48 were selected. Fultz will play for the East team in the 39th annual boys game at Chicago’s United Center on March 30.
Fultz, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound combo guard from Upper Marlboro, found out he was chosen while the Stags were in Springfield, Mass., preparing to play in the Hoophall Classic.
“That moment was unbelievable for me,” Fultz said during the selection show on ESPNU. “To be surrounded by my teammates who have helped me work out every day in practice, was just really unbelievable and such a great feeling.”
Previous McDonald’s All-Americans include basketball greats LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Jones was happy to see Fultz, the reigning Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Player of the Year, join the group.
“I’m very proud of him; he’s earned it,” Jones said. “He’s got much better days ahead of him.”
Fultz will also play for the USA Basketball Junior National Select Team that will compete at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore., on April 9. Six days later, he will be at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the Jordan Brand Classic. He and V.J. King of WCAC rival Paul VI will be the first Washington area players to play in the game since former Bishop O’Connell and North Carolina star Kendall Marshall in 2010.
Fultz, who has accepted a scholarship offer to play at the University of Washington next season, is averaging 18.5 points for the nationally ranked Stags (16-3).
Wootten coached 10 McDonald’s All-Americans during his 46 years (1956-2002) as DeMatha’s head coach: Sidney Lowe, Dereck Whittenburg (1979); Adrian Branch (1981); Danny Ferry (1985); Steve Hood (1986); Jerrod Mustaf (1988); Duane Simpkins (1992); Keith Bogans, Joe Forte (1999); and Travis Garrison (2002).
In addition to Fultz, Jones has coached two other McDonald’s All-Americans: Quinn Cook (2011) and Austin Freeman (2007). Cook, a 2007 St. Jerome graduate, played three years for the Stags before playing his final season (2010-11) at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.
Wootten is chairman of the committee that selects the boys and girls rosters for the McDonald’s All-American Games. The first team was selected in 1977. It competed in the Capital Classic at the old Capital Centre in Largo against a team of local All-Stars.