The Backstory of the “Fab Five”
In 1991, the University of Michigan managed to sign 5 top recruits to join their basketball program. The Fab Five included Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson. Webber and Rose were childhood friends, living down the street from one-another in Detroit. These two blossomed into McDonald’s All-Americans who were set to join the same college team. Along with these two, Juwan Howard, a talented forward from Chicago was another All-American set to join the team. King and Jackson, both from Texas, were set to be key parts of the team that changed college basketball forever.
The Tournament Runs
The Fab Five made their way to the national title game in two consecutive years: 1992 and 1993. The five freshmen didn’t start regularly together until almost a month before the 1992 NCAA tournament: February 9, 1992. In their first game starting together as a regular unit, the five freshmen scored every single one of their team’s points against rival Notre Dame.
The Fab Five turned around the University’s program, leading Michigan to a 25-9 record their freshman year after a dismal season a year before. Jalen Rose led the freshmen in scoring with 17.6 points per game. Michigan found themselves in the 1992 NCAA Championship Game where they eventually lost to Duke.
Michigan found their way to the 1993 NCAA Tournament with a better record than they had a year before. In their second consecutive championship game, the Fab Five were down by 2 with 11 seconds left when Chris Webber infamously called timeout when the team had none left, resulting in a technical foul that clinched the game for North Carolina. Webber was devastated by the timeout and refused to discuss the end of that game for years.
Despite their Final Four runs, most of the team’s season wins and both of their Final Four appearances were vacated due to Chris Webber, along with the suspicion of others, accepting money from university personnel, which compromised their amateur status. This is a debate that still lingers in today’s college athletics. Many believe that Webber, if he accepted money, accepted the money only after he knew he would go pro but before he was drafted (a loan of sorts).
While they may have never won a national title, the impact they made on the college basketball scene is what everyone will remember. Often regarded as the best recruiting class of all time, many fans can see similar recruiting classes today by looking at Kentucky’s John Calipari and what he has been able to accomplish.
NBA Careers (Then and Now)
Chris Webber was the only member of the Fab Five to enter into the draft after their sophomore season. He was drafted #1 overall by the Orlando Magic but was later traded to the Golden State Warriors. Webber went on to play 15 years in the NBA, getting selected to the All-Star game 5 times. He has his #4 jersey retired by the Sacramento Kings. Webber is now a basketball analyst for TNT.
Both Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard entered the 1994 NBA Draft, after their junior season. Howard was selected by the Washington Bullets with the 5th overall pick; Rose by the Denver Nuggets with the 13th selection. Both had productive careers. Rose was part of a good Indiana Pacers team in the late 1990’s and went to the Finals in 2000. He is now an analyst and personality for ESPN. Howard played for 8 teams in 16 seasons, winning a title as a member of the Miami Heat in 2012. Howard is the only member of the Fab Five to win a championship.
King and Jackson finished out their college careers at Michigan. King was selected by the Toronto Raptors in the second round of the 1995 NBA Draft. He played just two seasons in the NBA. King now works as a financial advisor, as he told in a phone interview on The Jim Rome Show on November 30, 2006. Jackson is perhaps the least known of the Fab Five and never made it to the NBA. He now runs a not-for-profit moving company back in his home state of Texas.