In 1991 the University of Michigan had five of the best high school players in the country in arguably the best recruiting class in college basketball history. Led by trainer Steve Fischer; Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson were the 5 recruits who stand out to this day. Each player had different characteristics as players that many believed would translate perfectly into the NBA. Of course, Chris Webber was considered the best player in America, while Jalen Rose drew similarities to Magic Johnson because of his court vision.
Juwan Howard has done a lot of things well on the pitch including scoring and rebounding while Jimmy King had incredible athleticism alongside defensive minded Ray Jackson. The Fab Five made the NCAA championship game in 1992 and 1993, though they went to Duke and North Carolina in each of those years. In 1993, Chris Webber went for the NBA and was number 1 in the draft with the Golden State Warriors. A year later, Juwan Howard and Jalen Rose were selected in the 1994 NBA Draft in places 5 and 13. King and Jackson graduated with Michigan for the entire 4 years. Looking back at the careers of each player, three of them had long and successful NBA careers while the others faced two different challenges in their lives, including their time in Europe. It’s time to remember the careers of every member of the famous Fab Five.
5. Ray Jackson
Ray Jackson graduated every 4 years with the Michigan Wolverines and never made it into the NBA. Unlike the other 4 stars on the Fab Five, Jackson often flew under the radar. He was cut by the Knicks in the 1996 season and later by the Pacers in the 1997 season during the preseason. However, he was drafted by the CBA (Continental Basketball Association) with number 35 overall.
Jackson was named Rookie of the Year with the Grand Rapids Hoops. It is painful that Jackson was the only player in the “Fab Five” who did not reach the NBA, but he also had successful stints in France, Argentina and Venezuela as a professional basketball player. Ray Jackson’s other life endeavors include running a moving company and a children’s nonprofit called Rise Up.
4. Jimmy King
Similar to Jackson, King graduated with the Michigan Wolverines every 4 years. The 6’5 ”shooting guard had a lot of explosiveness and athleticism in college and it was clear that he would have no problem getting a job in the NBA. Unlike Ray Jackson, King eventually decided to join the NBA. With the 35th election in the 1995 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors chose King as their savior as their shooter. King had a sub-par rookie season averaging 4.5 PPG in just 14.0 MPG, despite being successful in 62 games as a 22-year-old.
A year later, King only played two games with the Denver Nuggets, averaging 3.0 PPG on a 10-day contract. King then decided to pursue a career in Europe with the CBA, where he won the MVP league with the Quad City Thunder. King’s success in Europe earned him a spot in the 1998 FIBA World Championship with Team USA, though he never returned to the NBA for a full season. King is also known to own a high school recruiting solutions company called TruChampions. His success in Europe, as well as his entrepreneurial endeavors, made him a successful professional in the Fab Five.
3. Juwan Howard
Juwan Howard was one of the top two members of the Fab Five to make an all-star team during his career. Howard had a very strong rookie season with the Washington Bullets averaging 17.0 PPG and 8.4 RPG. It wasn’t enough to make him rookie of the year over Grant Hill, who averaged 19.9 PPG and 6.4 RPG. The following year, Juwan Howard had his best season averaging 22.1 PPG and 8.1 RPG with Washington and earned his first and only All-Star appearance.
Howard made the All-NBA Third Team in 1996 as a striker alongside Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal on the forecourt. Juwan Howard played with 7 different NBA franchises over the course of his career before winning his last three seasons with the Miami Heat. Despite being 38 and 39, Howard was the locker room veteran and glue for the Heat super team in 2012 and 2013. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh led the Heat to consecutive NBA titles. Howard became a two-time NBA champion.
2. Jalen Rose
Jalen Rose was a very hyped rookie who went into the NBA despite dropping to 13th in the 1994 draft. The draft class was full of talent like Jason Kidd, Grant Hill, and even Rose’s teammate Juwan Howard. It took Rose a while to get into the NBA after a humble rookie season averaging 8.2 PPG and 4.8 APG. His numbers were good enough with the Denver Nuggets to secure a spot on the all-rookie team. 5 years after his rookie season, Rose finally came to and won the Most Improved Player Award.
Rose averaged 18.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 4.0 APG with the Indiana Pacers that season. Rose would then average over 20 PPG in 4 of the next 5 seasons with the Pacers and Bulls and slowly play a diminishing role in the league. With his self-confidence with the ball and his solid style of play, Rose played a total of 13 seasons as a professional and was the third most successful part of the Fab Five.
1. Chris Webber
Chris Webber, by far the most successful member of the Fab Five, could be in the Hall of Fame in the near future. Webber was considered to be the best player in the country during his college days, and he has certainly met that expectation in the NBA. Everywhere Webber went, his team was a winner. He won Rookie of the Year in 1994 averaging 17.5 PPG and 9.1 RPG with the Golden State Warriors. The warriors traded Webber for Tom Gugliotta in Washington, and he would be more successful. He would make his first All-Star team in his third season with Washington, averaging 20.1 PPG and 10.3 RPG as a 23-year-old.
On May 14, 1998, Washington traded Chris Webber for Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe for the Sacramento Kings. The Kings were a lost team for years and Webber would be the city’s savior. With his ability to dominate the glass, handle the ball and score in color; He almost got the kings to the NBA finals. He spent his best years with the Kings, where he formed 4 all-star teams and created a competitor in Mike alongside Mike Bibby, Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic. Webber was the best player for the team that became known to the Los Angeles Lakers (and potential umpires) during the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Looking back on his career, Webber made 5 All-NBA teams and had the most iconic career among any member of the Fab Five.