The freshman powerhouse before Duke

The Fab Five


The Michigan Fab Five were more dominant than the current freshman at Duke.

C-Webb with the slam

Before the Duke Blue Devils all star freshman class consisting of four players in the ESPN’s top 25 recruits, there was the Fab Five.

The Fab 5 were the University of Michigan’s recruiting class for 1991. It is still considered the greatest class ever recruited. The members of the Fab 5 were – Chris Webber, Jalen Rose (both Detroit natives), Juwan Howard (a Chicago native), Jimmy King and Ray Jackson (both from Texas).

They are a huge reason for the baggy shorts and swag level that you saw in the mid to late 1990’s and even now. They were five freshman with attitude, and as we approach the upcoming tournament you can’t go without mentioning one of the greatest college teams of all time.

The Wolverines Fab Five recruiting class of 1991 is a tale heard many times since their revolutionary impact to the college game. Four of the five recruits came to Ann Arbor as McDonald’s All-Americans. Chris Webber (1st in the nation), Juwan Howard (3rd in the nation), Jalen Rose (5th in the nation), Jimmy King (9th in the nation), and Ray Jackson (89th in the nation). They all ended up in the starting line up, marking it the first time five freshman started all at the same time. Even Duke has a junior starting at center this year with Marques Bolden .

The Fab Five, however, did not all start out on the floor in the beginning of the season. At first, just Rose, Howard, and Webber were in the starting line up. It took Jimmy King and Ray Jackson until partway through the season to make the starting lineup. That’s when the Wolverines started rolling. The freshman class danced their way into the 1992 Final 4, defeating Huggins’ Bearcats and falling to Duke in the Championship. Yes it was a disappointing loss, but the Blue Devils were lead by NBA Hall of Famer Grant Hill and superstar Christian Laettner, who some regard as the greatest college basketball player of all time.

Sports Illustrated

The five freshman were talented not only on the court, but off of it as well. They were five African-American’s, and sadly that is all some of the Michigan alumni saw. Apparently they felt it brought shame to the university to bring such praise to African-American freshman, and stating their were some white players on the bench that deserved to be in.

Some people thought that wasn’t what college basketball was about. They wore baggy shorts, opposed to the “short-shorts” they wore back in the day. They wore black Nike socks, when white socks were¬† the norm. They played with attitude, trash-talked, and simply showed how fun the game was to them. That threatened a lot of people, because they weren’t ready for a change. That is why there were many negative remarks.¬† However, head coach Steve Fisher paid no attention to the racist remarks, and continued to play the fab five. They faced all of that adversity and all of that hate at just the age of 18. They were just kids, and people treated them like they weren’t human, which makes their accomplishments even more remarkable.

Other than racist remarks, they also had to deal with $$$. Businesses like Nike were making money off the Fab Five, mostly centered around Chris Webber, who had his #4 Michigan jersey hanging in stores all around the world. They even went as far as making “Fab Five” Nike shoes. The sad part is, none of these players saw any of that money. They were just regular college kids, with little to no money, and Nike was profiting majorly off of them.

Sadly, due to recruiting violations that had nothing to do with the Fab Five, they forced the removal of their two Final Four banners that the Fab Five brought to the university. As for their legacy, it is nothing short of incredible. They changed the game of basketball forever. Black socks, long basketball shorts, and over-all attitude on the court was all thanks to the Fab Five.

I understand that Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett are part of something special, but in my opinion they don’t come close to the Fab Five. They made monumental changes to the game, that are seen as the norm today.

So this March as you sit back and enjoy the greatest month in sports, remember those Wolverine’s that came before. They were the team that paved the way for freshman powerhouses like Duke and Kentucky. The Fab Five.