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The Fab Five was the nickname for the 1991 University of Michigan men's basketball team recruiting class that is considered by many to be "the greatest class ever recruited." The class consisted of Detroit natives Chris Webber (#4) and Jalen Rose (#5), Chicago native Juwan Howard (#25), and two recruits from Texas, Plano's Jimmy King (#24) and Austin's Ray Jackson (#21). Four of the five were participants in the 1991 McDonald's All-American Game. At first, only three of the freshmen started for the 1991–92 Michigan Wolverines men's basketball team. Although they all played when the season opened on December 2, 1991 against the University of Detroit, they did not all play at the same time until December 7 against Eastern Michigan and did not start regularly until February 9, 1992. In that first game starting together as a regular unit, the five freshmen scored all the team's points against Notre Dame. They started as a unit in all but one of the remaining games for the season. They reached the 1992 and 1993 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship games as both freshmen and sophomores. However, all of their wins and Final Four appearances were vacated due to Webber (and others) accepting money from Ed Martin, compromising their amateur status.
Four McDonald's All-Americans in a single recruiting class stood as an unbroken record until the 2013 McDonald's All-American Boys Game included six members of the entering class for the 2013–14 Kentucky Wildcats team. As students, they helped to bring a popular "Hip Hop" style to the game with their trash talk and by imitating Michael Jordan of the NBA, wearing longer, baggier gym shorts and shaved heads. They also wore black athletic shoes, and black athletic socks. Their controversial antics on the court garnered much attention from the media. They are the subjects of The Fab Five, which was the highest rated ESPN Films documentary ever produced, were one of the featured teams in the two highest rated NCAA Men's Basketball Championship games ever played in terms of households (although not viewers), and were a marketing juggernaut whose merchandise sales even dwarfed those of the 1989 NCAA tournament champion 1988–89 Michigan Wolverines men's basketball team.
In the documentary, Jackson noted that this was a special era for Michigan Wolverines athletics. During the 1991 NCAA Division I-A football season, Desmond Howard won the Heisman Trophy playing for the 1991 Michigan Wolverines football team. Also, the 1991–92 and 1992–93 Michigan Wolverines men's ice hockey team reached the Frozen Four in the same two springs (1992 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament & 1993 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament) that the basketball team went to the championship game. In addition, the basketball team had won the championship two years before the Fab Five arrived on campus.
Originally, the players rebelled against the moniker and attempted to give themselves the nickname Five Times' (written 5X's). As high school players all five members of the Fab Five were rated in the top 100 of high school prospects in 1991, and four were in the top ten. Chris Webber was ranked #1, Juwan Howard was ranked #3, Jalen Rose was ranked #6, Jimmy King was ranked #9, and Ray Jackson was ranked #84. All but Jackson participated in the McDonald's All-American Game in 1991.
In the elite eight round of the 1992 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, Michigan earned a rematch against a Jimmy Jackson-led Ohio State Buckeyes team that had beaten them twice during the regular season by double digits. Michigan won the rematch as all but two Wolverines points were scored by the Fab Five. Despite their talent, they never won a championship. They reached the NCAA championship game as freshmen in 1992 and again as sophomores in 1993. They lost to Duke 71–51 in the 1992 title game and lost 77–71 to North Carolina in 1993, a game which is remembered mostly for Chris Webber's costly "timeout", which resulted in a technical foul as Michigan had no timeouts remaining.
Webber earned second team All-Big Ten Conference recognition in 1992 and first team recognition in 1993. Howard an honorable mention in 1992, second team selection in 1993 and first team selection in 1994. Rose was a third team selection in 1993 and first team selection in 1994. King was an honorable mention selection in 1993 and 1994 as well as a third team selection in 1995. Jackson was an honorable mention selection in 1994 and second team selection in 1995.
Four of the five members went on to play in the NBA. Ray Jackson was the only player of the five to never suit up in the NBA. Jimmy King played two seasons. Juwan Howard was a one-time NBA All-Star and won two NBA championship rings with the Miami Heat. Jalen Rose emerged as a star between 1999 and 2003, leading the Indiana Pacers in scoring the year they won the Eastern Conference (2000). Chris Webber was a five-time NBA All-Star and is the only one of the five expected to get nominated and possibly inducted into the Hall of Fame. As a member of the Miami Heat, Juwan Howard became the first of the Fab Five to win an NBA Championship in 2012. He did not play in the Finals until the final minutes of Game 5, when Miami defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder to win the series 4-1.
After graduating from Detroit Country Day School, where he led his team to three MHSAA basketball titles and won state and national high school Gatorade Player of the Year awards and McDonald's All-American Game MVP, Webber attended the University of Michigan for two years. Chris Webber had drawn attention from colleges all around the country because of his dunks in 7th grade AAU basketball.
On April 5, 1993, at Michigan's second consecutive NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship game, Webber infamously called a time-out with 11 seconds left in the game when his team, down 73–71, did not have any remaining, which resulted in a technical foul that effectively clinched the game for North Carolina. That season, Webber was a first team All-American selection and a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award and Naismith College Player of the Year. These awards and honors have been vacated due to University of Michigan and NCAA sanctions related to the University of Michigan basketball scandal.
Webber was the first of the Fab Five to leave school, doing so after his sophomore year. He was drafted #1 overall by the Orlando Magic in the 1993 NBA Draft, but was traded on draft night to the Golden State Warriors for Anfernee Hardaway. He played with five teams over his fifteen-year career and had his #4 retired by the Sacramento Kings, with whom he spent a majority of those years. He is now an analyst for TNT. Webber holds NBA career averages of 20.7 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game, 4.2 assists per game, and 1.4 blocks per game. He was selected to the NBA All-Star game five times during his fifteen-year NBA career.
The son of former NBA player, Jimmy Walker, Rose first appeared on the basketball radar as a star at Southwestern High School in Detroit; he can even be seen at a high school All-American camp in the documentary film Hoop Dreams. Rose attended the University of Michigan where the Wolverines reached two NCAA Finals games in 1992 and 1993, finishing as national runners up both times. Rose was a part of Wolverines coach Steve Fisher's legendary 1991 recruiting class. He led the Fab Five in scoring his freshman year averaging 17.6 points per game, and set the school freshman scoring record with 597 total points. Aside from being the most outspoken of the Fab Five, Rose also was their point guard and leader. During his career he scored over 1700 points, and had 400 rebounds, 400 assists, and 100 steals. Of the players called before the grand jury (Robert Traylor, Webber, Rose, Maurice Taylor, and Louis Bullock), he was the only one not listed as having received large amounts of money.
Rose left Michigan after his junior year, and was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in the 1994 NBA Draft. He played most of his NBA career with the Indiana Pacers and was a key member of the teams that went to three consecutive Eastern Conference Finals in the late 1990s and the 2000 NBA Finals Pacer team. He finished his career in 2007 with the Phoenix Suns. He is now an analyst for ESPN.
Howard had a successful career at Chicago Vocational Career Academy, and can be seen playing in the high school basketball documentary Hoop Dreams. He left Michigan after his junior year, and was drafted fifth overall in the 1994 NBA Draft by the Washington Bullets for whom he played until 2001. Although the Fab Five final four appearances were later vacated, he was not among the players called before the grand jury (as were Robert Traylor, Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Maurice Taylor, and Louis Bullock).
As noted, Howard was the only member of the Fab Five still playing in the NBA through the 2011-12 season; he played for eight teams in 16 seasons. He was a member of the Portland Trail Blazers in 2009–10, and was a member of the Miami Heat for the 2010–11 and 2011-12 seasons. He played for the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks which the Heat lost, and he saw limited action during the Heat's successful postseason run following the 2011-12 season. Howard has played for eight different NBA franchises including the Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, Charlotte Bobcats, Trail Blazers, and Miami Heat. He holds NBA career averages of 13.8 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, and 2.3 assists per game.
On June 21, 2012, Juwan Howard won the NBA championship with the Miami Heat, becoming the only member of the Fab Five to win a championship.
Howard was signed by the Heat once again during the 2013 season to a 10-day contract, on March 2, and then re-signed to a second 10-day contract on March 12. The Miami Heat announced on March 22 that they signed Howard for the remainder of the season. Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. Howard is now an assistant coach with the Miami Heat as of 2014.
King was a starter for teams that reached the tournament four times. Before this, he was a high school All-American basketball player at Plano East Senior High School in Plano, a city north of Dallas, Texas. Although the Fab Five final four appearances are forfeited, he was not among the players called before the grand jury. King and Ray Jackson were the only two members of the Fab Five that did not leave school early for the draft, staying with Michigan for their entire four years of eligibility.
King was selected in the second round (35th overall) in the 1995 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors. He played in a total of 64 games in two seasons with the Raptors and Denver Nuggets, made one start for the Raptors in 1996. King played for the Quad City Thunder (a CBA team) for most of his career. King retired with a career average of 4.5 points after the 1996–97 season.
In a phone interview on The Jim Rome Show on November 30, 2006, Jimmy stated he was currently working as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch on Wall Street. During the 2008–09 Michigan Wolverines season, King served as a radio color commentator.
Ray Jackson was one of the famed Fab Five. Although the Fab Five Final Four appearances are vacated, he was not among the players called before the grand jury (Robert Traylor, Webber, Rose, Maurice Taylor, and Louis Bullock) in the University of Michigan basketball scandal and was not found to have received large amounts of money.
Perhaps the least known of the Fab Five, Jackson was not drafted into nor did he play in the NBA. He was cut in preseason by the New York Knicks before the 1995–96 season and cut by the Detroit Pistons before the 1996–97 season. He was drafted into the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) by the Grand Rapids Hoops as 35th pick overall in the 3rd round in 1995.
While with the Hoops, he received the 1995–96 CBA Rookie of the Year Award.
In a February 10, 2007 article on Yahoo Sports, Jackson says that: "It took me a long time to get over the fact that I was the only one that didn't make it to the NBA from the Fab Five, but I'm over it because I'm back home and I'm happy with what I'm doing with my life."