Josiah Fulcher continues to see minutes rise amid tough stretch for Falcons

Josiah+Fulcher

Josiah Fulcher

Shayne Nissen and Shayne Nissen

BGSU men’s basketball has lost five straight games, but throughout this, freshman guard Josiah Fulcher has seen his minutes rise.

At 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, he hails from Lima Senior High School in Lima, Ohio. Fulcher came to the Falcons as the No. 7 prospect in Ohio from the class of 2020.

He was a star for the Lima Spartans, averaging 21 points, five rebounds and four assists in his senior year. He was named first team All-Ohio, and naturally that attracted interest from all around the country. Fulcher had 10 Division I schools offer him before his high school career was over, but he decided to put his faith in BGSU and their head coach Michael Huger.

“I chose to come to BG over other options because of the coaching staff and all of the hospitality that was shown during the recruiting process. It was a pretty tough decision between BG and Western Michigan but I felt that BG was the place for me. I felt that they would get me to where I wanted to be in life and they would help me pursue my career,” Fulcher said.

Huger himself was ecstatic to get the three-star prospect Fulcher for multiple reasons.

“The biggest thing that impressed me the most for Josiah was how hard he played. He played extremely hard. I liked his energy and effort and what he did defensively, he was very good defensively. He just had a knack for scoring. He just had that ability to make it look easy and that is what I was impressed with much,” he said.

But Fulcher didn’t show up on campus and make an impact from the jump. Moving from the high school level to a Division I college doesn’t always set up for smooth sailing — and that rang true for Fulcher.

“My transition has been a process. There have been some ups and downs and everything and like I said it is a process,” Fulcher said. “To get ready for this level I had to be in the weight room a lot. Make sure that I was in the gym after practice, before practice or even just getting extra shots up throughout the day. Just basically staying on the grind, just grinding everything out.”

In his first five games of the season, Fulcher never saw more than 16 minutes of playing time and he averaged just 3.5 points, three rebounds and less than one assist per game.

That low statistical production didn’t equate to less playing time for the freshman, though. After this point, Fulcher started to see a rise in minutes starting back-to-back contests against Robert Morris and Ohio in December in which he recorded 20 minutes.

The stats still weren’t there — but what Fulcher does goes deeper than just numbers on a page. 

“The biggest reason was his defense and it still is, the defense has been great. That is the one thing that is consistent. Scoring is not consistent. Sometimes you score the ball and you get 20 and sometimes you get 15. But defense, that is the one constant, that is the one thing that you can control. That’s what’s keeping him in the game and getting him more minutes,” Huger said.

So Fulcher continued to get minutes for a team that desperately needed the help on defense.

As of their most recent loss to Western Michigan, the Falcons are No. 293 in the country in opponent points per game, letting opponents score an average of 77 points per game.

After receiving 20 minutes in the game against the Colonials, Fulcher went nine straight games where he played at least 16 minutes. That streak ended in their most recent game with the Broncos last Wednesday when he only was on the court for 14 minutes.

The game before falling to the Broncos though, Fulcher saw his season-high of 24 minutes. That was directly attributed to the fact that he saw a career-high scoring output against Kent State in the game before with 23 points.

Fulcher attributes this boost to his scoring to a rising confidence in himself as the season has gone on, both coming from himself and his teammates.

“I’ve been gaining a little bit more confidence. That’s all it is, just being confident in playing, in your shot, in your defense. All you have to do is just have a lot of confidence and that’s what I have been learning to do. I’ve been building off of it,” he said.

But even as the confidence continues to rise, and more shots start to fall for him, Huger is always going to call back to his defensive intensity, something that has been helped by playing against an NBA prospect in Justin Turner.

“I think it’s the pride that he takes in getting stops. He knows he’s a good defender and he takes pride. When he gets beat, he knows it, he understands it and he tries to correct it right away. Going against Juice (Justin) Turner everyday in practice has only made him better being that he gets that competition every single day. It makes him better and I like what he’s doing so far, Huger said.

As the season goes on and the Falcons continue to struggle on defense, Huger and the BGSU coaching staff will most assuredly continue to look at Fulcher to fix the holes on that side of the ball.

“Once I put him on, unless it is foul trouble or something like that, it is hard to take him off the court,” Huger said.

Fulcher is all for playing that role.

“Going from the best player on your high school team to a role guy is not something that everyone wants to but I decided okay I will fulfill this role and by the time my junior or senior year comes I will be one of those guys again,” Fulcher said.