Their Fab 5 nickname sounded more like the popular Beatles band from the 1960s. Instead, the catchy moniker heralded the most important recruiting class in the history of college basketball at the time.
The University of Michigan’s legendary Fab 5 recruiting class had four of the top ten 1991 NCAA basketball recruits.
Their fifth recruit also ranked among the top 100 high school basketball players in the nation.
Members of the Fab 5 would all become future NBA players. Chris Webber was the nation’s #1 recruit. Juwan Howard was the #3 recruit in the country. Jalen Rose was the country’s #6 rated recruit prospect.
The Fab 5 also featured Jimmy King the #10 rated recruit and Ray Jackson, who completed the group at #84.
Under Head Coach Steve Fisher, the talented Fab 5 advanced to the NCAA Championship finals in their freshmen and sophomore years. In 1992 the team lost 71- 51 to the Duke Blue Devils, and in 1993 they suffered a 77- 71 defeat to the North Carolina Tar Heels.
The Fab 5 succeeded on the court at the University of Michigan, but the players left an even bigger mark away from the hardwood.
ESPN 30 for 30 Films Featured the Fab 5
ESPN 30 for 30 Films told of the players’ influence in transforming the landscape of college basketball. Much of their story mirrored the cultural influence of London’s musical group the Beatles, referred to as the Fab 4.
This group of young basketball stars brought their own brand of style to the game. They introduced hip-hop music, baggy shorts, brash talk, shaven heads, black shoes and black socks into the then conservative culture of college basketball.
The totally talented bunch of athletes all left school early. They entered the NBA Draft and sparked a future wave of college athletes who would do the same for the NBA.
This recruiting class may be the best ever in college basketball. Yet surprisingly, they never won a national championship.
In addition, the University of Michigan was investigated for violating several NCAA rules. Unfortunately, the university later lost many of the wins and awards earned during the Fab 5 era.
Many fans agree that the Fab 5’s reckless actions hurt their legacy.
However, this group still stands in collective NCAA memory. They were the brash, entertaining, talented and most transformational group of athletes to ever step onto the hardwood of college basketball.
Like them or not, the Fab 5 deserves a spot in NCAA Basketball Favorites – baggy shorts, brash talk, black socks, bald heads and all.
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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!