Picture this: you’re entering your first NBA season after being drafted first overall. You tweaked your ankle in Summer League and fans are eagerly anticipating your debut as the final piece of a young core. At the same time, your mother has had indoor security cameras installed in your home. In a sense, stepping off the court doesn’t allow you to get out from in front of the camera. Welcome to the reported life of Markelle Fultz.

Over the past two seasons, many have been focused on positing theories as to why Markelle morphed from a consensus #1 overall pick to a shell of his former self on the court. All along, I’ve been equally if not more interested in learning how the circle around Fultz may have contributed to his unprecedented fall from grace. Enter Candace Buckner of The Washington Post who shed some light on Fultz’s quasi-secretive inner circle. While she was able to get Markelle’s former trainer Keith Williams on the record, the most insightful bits in the piece were related to Fultz’s mother, Ebony, which went well past the typical AAU-helicopter parent.

Let’s go back to the indoor cameras:

During Fultz’s first season in Philadelphia, Ebony had cameras installed inside his New Jersey home, according to several people familiar with the setup who described the indoor surveillance as unusual. The cameras have since been removed.

Well thank God for that. Per Buckner’s sources, Ebony has also requested that people involved with her son sign non-disclosure agreements for reasons unbeknownst to the referred parties.

Perhaps the most unsurprising news in this piece was that of Fultz’s mom having multiple blowups with her son’s coaches throughout his career prior to the NBA. The incidents can be tracked as far back as to when Fultz was playing U-15 ball:

During one summer game with the under-15 DC Blue Devils, a bag belonging to one of Fultz’s teammates was stolen; by the next tournament, Ebony had purchased a bike lock with the intention of securing all the players’ bags. But when Blue Devils coaches did not properly secure players’ bags with the lock, a witness said, Ebony confronted the staff in the middle of a game.

Buckner reported that prior to Fultz’s senior year, his mom had words with her son’s AAU coach Corey McCrae after the latter reportedly had to pull Fultz from his bed prior to a tournament game.

According to a person familiar with the incident, Ebony cursed out McCrae, which several people believe caused the coach to return to Washington and quit the program.

After all, back in November Shams Charania of The Athletic reported:

At halftime, multiple witnesses observed Ebony yelling at [former trainer Drew] Hanlen. According to sources with knowledge of the argument, she was angry that results were not showing for Markelle and Hanlen walked away. Hanlen did not work with Fultz again after that fight and officially parted ways.

Anyone else noticing a trend? I cannot imagine what pressure Ebony Fultz must have felt as a single mom raising multiple children, one of whom traveled cross-country to play his college ball and went on to face an indescribable pressure of being drafted first overall in the NBA Draft. That said, if any/all of the reported incidents in Buckner’s piece are accurate, it could explain Fultz’s quiet, sheltered demeanor he’s displayed off the court. Perhaps his mother needs to let her son breathe and experience life on his own terms. Only then could he finally reach the heights of his potential.