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Fatts Russell stops home at Rumph Classic before starting career overseas

08/05/2022, 4:45pm EDT
By Ty Daubert

Ty Daubert (@TyDaubert)

PHILADELPHIA — Before starting up his professional career in Europe, Fatts Russell had one last stop to make back home.

A former Imhotep Charter standout who recently signed with Mornar Barsko zlato of the Adriatic League, Russell was one of numerous local players to suit up for the first night of the 17th annual Danny Rumph Classic at La Salle’s Tom Gola Arena. 

The point guard is competing for Team CTC in the five-day charity pro-am tournament, his final on-court showing in Philadelphia before he heads to Montenegro in two weeks.

“This is my first time playing in Philly without a college environment in a very long time,” Russell said. “It was fun playing with guys that I grew up watching and guys that I grew up playing against. It’s definitely fun.”

Fatts Russell goes up for a shot. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

After he led Imhotep to a PIAA Class 4A state championship as a senior in 2017, Russell moved on to play at Rhode Island, where over the course of four seasons he became one of the top players in program history.

Russell helped the Rams pick up a first-round March Madness win over current NBA All-Star Trae Young and Oklahoma in 2018, was named first-team All-Atlantic 10 and A-10 All-Defense in 2020. He is top 10 in Rhode Island history in both steals and assists.

With an extra year of eligibility, Russell transferred to Maryland for a fifth season in 2021-22, averaging 15.1 points per game and earning an All-Big 10 honorable mention. Entering the summer, he began to explore his options for what was next.

“My plan was always to keep trying to get to a higher level,” Russell said. “I did a couple NBA workouts and went through that process, then found something overseas that I felt like fit my game.”

Russell worked out for teams like the Indiana Pacers and the Sacramento Kings, getting the chance to face professional competition. He ultimately went undrafted in the NBA, but Mornar signed him in July. A return to the United States to play is still a goal for Russell, but for now he’s just focused on continuing his career in the opportunity he has.

“I don’t really have anything to prove anymore,” he said. “I’m just trying to elevate my game and reach my highest potential.”

The Adriatic League will be a challenge for Russell, who has never played overseas before. He’ll need to adjust to a new situation, as well as older and bigger opponents. But it’s nothing the 5-foot-11 guard has never handled before. 

“I’ve been small my whole life,” Russell said.”You just find ways to score and do other things.”

Scheduled to arrive in Montenegro on Aug. 20, Russell decided to participate in the Rumph Classic with the time he had left at home. 

Taking the floor for the opening game of the event, he helped lead CTC to a 66-62 victory over PF Workouts. Battling against former Miami players Ja'Quan Newton and Davon Reed, Russell scored 11 points and delivered five assists while showing off his creativity as he connected with former Villanova big man Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree for multiple slams.

“There was a lot of intensity,” Russell said. “And I know as the games go on, it’ll keep being better competition. It was really good with a nice crowd and a good atmosphere.”

Moving on to Day 2 of the double-elimination tournament, CTC will play next on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. against Blue Magic. Looking forward to the rest of the event, Russell is excited to continue working toward the championship. But most importantly, he wants to use the rest of his time at the Rumph to keep getting better.

“It’s a good prep up for what I’m going to see overseas,” Russell said. “There’s going to be a lot of grown men, a lot of physicality. And the Rumph Classic definitely brings that.”

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