Two of the greatest guards ever to hit the hardwoods at Alaska Airlines Arena are going to be leaving the UW too soon.
Kelsey Plum, the 5-foot-8, ponytailed, California-born scoring machine who led the the Huskies to the 2016 Final Four, is graduating in June. Markelle Fultz, the baby-faced, 6-foot-4 freshman from Maryland who arrived as the best basketball recruit in school history, is leaving school to become a top pick in June’s NBA draft (a UW player has never been drafted as the No. 1 pick). Never before have we fans had the opportunity to watch the best guards in both sports at the same time.
Plum, you may remember, didn’t just choose to come to UW for basketball. A high school star in San Diego, she could have gone anywhere. But she loved the school, and how people here supported women’s basketball. And she loved the idea of bringing Husky women’s basketball to a higher level. In February, she became the all-time leading scorer in women’s basketball history. In March, she racked up the most points ever scored in a single NCAA season.
Fultz, meanwhile, arrived in Seattle as a five-star McDonald’s All-American, choosing the Huskies over legendary programs: Arizona, Louisville, Kentucky. From the moment he arrived, you could see what a star he was. That smooth shot, the ability to block shots no one else could even dream of, that quiet demeanor.
He became the highest-scoring freshman in the history of UW men’s basketball, and he fell two rebounds shy of recording the program’s first triple double. We felt for him that his freshman season didn’t go quite as planned, as the Huskies ended with a losing record. You did us proud.