Monday afternoon, the 76ers’ first pick had the chance to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.
Shortly before the Phillies took the field for a matinee match-up with the Atlanta Braves, Markelle Fultz, working from the stretch a few feet off the Citizen’s Bank Park pitcher’s rubber, lofted a high, gentle toss to the Phillie Phanatic to formally get the day’s proceedings underway.
Fultz has been in and around the Delaware Valley the past couple days, and seemed to appreciate that the Phillies were willing to host him for a visit.
“It just shows the love that they show in this area,” said Fultz, who grew up just outside of Washington, DC.
Fultz not only felt good vibes from some his counterparts with the Phillies, but also from fans in attendance. “Trust-the-Process” chants made their way through the crowd.
“Anywhere you go in Philly, you’re going to hear that,” said Fultz. “It’s something I say, too.
“You can be in McDonald’s, you can be walking down the street – you’re going to hear that.”
The fourth No. 1 overall draft pick in Sixers history, Fultz is still just a few weeks removed from making his professional debut, of sorts. Playing in three contests between the Utah Jazz and MGM Resorts NBA Summer Leagues, the combo guard held his own, averaging 16.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.0 block in 21.5 minutes per game.
Before sustaining an ankle sprain July 8th in the Sixers’ first outing in Las Vegas, Fultz scored a summer-best 23 points, to go with five boards and five assists, in a match up with the Jazz. The Washington product expects to be “fine.”
“I have been working out lately, getting strength back, doing rehab, and everything like that,” Fultz told reporters. “My ankle is doing a lot better.”
During an appearance last week at one of the Sixers’ youth basketball camps, Fultz spoke with assuredness about the positive outlook he has for the team’s upcoming 2017-2018 season. His tone was similar Monday.
“It’s just me having confidence,” said Fultz, citing the level of talent on the Sixers’ roster. “I believe in the team. I believe in what I can do, what the coaching staff can do.
“Everybody on the team’s goal is to make it to the playoffs, and everybody believes we can make it.”
Monday, however, there was a far different matter at the forefront for Fultz – get the ball to home plate and into the Phanatic’s mitt in respectable fashion.
With the sun shining down on a perfect, humidity-free, late-July summer day, Fultz embraced the opportunity to be further introduced to Philadelphia sports scene.
“For me to be a basketball player, and be welcomed downhere on the baseball field, it just shows the love that the Philly community has.”