sports 3 days ago

Penn State basketball recruit Myles Dread admires Philadelphia 76ers rookie Markelle Fultz's 'storybook' rise

The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa. — Daniel Gallen The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.

April 16--CONSHOHOCKEN -- Markelle Fultz turned the Washington, D.C., high school basketball scene on its head during the 2014-15 season. In his first season on varsity at national power DeMatha Catholic (Md.), the then-unheralded junior averaged 16.5 points per game and was the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference player of the year.

It was the start of a meteoric rise. A year later, Fultz was a top-five recruit in the Class of 2016. He went one-and-done at Washington, and the Philadelphia 76ers selected him No. 1 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. Last week, he became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double. On Saturday, he scored five points off the bench in his postseason debut.

Myles Dread has been watching the whole time. The Penn State basketball recruit was a freshman at rival Gonzaga College (D.C.) when Fultz took the District by storm as a junior, and the future Nittany Lion took notice of how the current professional put himself in position to become a household name.

"It was amazing," Dread said last week. "It was just amazing to watch. Just watching him explode like that, it was cool."

The WCAC has long boasted some of the nation's top basketball talent, with DeMatha and Gonzaga serving as two of the headliners. In Fultz's senior year, DeMatha and Gonzaga squared off in the WCAC semifinals. Dread, a sophomore, scored two points in Gonzaga's 79-66 loss, and of the 15 players who scored in that game, 14 either went on to play Division I basketball, have signed with a D-I program or hold D-I offers.

Fultz stands out above the rest for Dread.

"He's probably the best player I've played against so far," Dread said. "Played against a lot of great dudes like [Duke's] Marvin Bagley, Markelle, [Louisville's] V.J. King, [Notre Dame's] D.J. Harvey. He's probably the most put together, all-around player that I played against. He's athletic, strong, can finish, shoot the ball. A lot of people disrespect his jump shot, but when you're injured like that, it's hard to shoot. So he's back now playing well. He's trying to prove the doubters wrong, so I'm proud of him."

Dread said he has a casual relationship with Fultz. When the two chat, Dread will remind Fultz that Gonzaga beat DeMatha in the 2015 WCAC title game in double overtime to spoil Fultz's breakout season.

Dread wants to be an instant impact player at Penn State, and he said he called Fultz once when Fultz was at Washington to pick his brain about taking on so much responsibility as a freshman. Dread had played with plenty of Division I players at Gonzaga who had early impacts in college, including Miami (Fla.) point guard Chris Lykes and Wake Forest guard Bryant Crawford, but no one had the same impact that Fultz had at Washington, where Fultz averaged 23.2 points per game in his only season.

"I know a lot of guys like Chris and Bryant Crawford, I talk to them, but somebody that's playing, they're like the guy, they got the rock as a freshman, it's a little different," Dread said. "So I just wanted to see what it's like being in the mindset like that with everybody knowing your name and stuff."

Dread showed he could be an impact player for Penn State and coach Patrick Chambers during his games at the Donofrio Classic. In a losing effort Thursday, he dropped 43 points and was the top all-around player at times on a court filled with future college players.

He comes from a fertile basketball recruiting ground, and he cut his teeth against the nation's best during his prep career before he heads to State College. And when he arrives, he'll have some lessons from a potential future star in the NBA at his disposal in Fultz.

"It's cool watching somebody who works so hard get to accomplish something," Dread said. "He's the No. 1 pick in the draft. He went from playing freshman to playing JV to being Gatorade Player of the Year, going to a major school and then being the first draft pick, one-and-done. It's a storybook kind of situation. It's cool to watch."

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