This is a guest post by Aaron Dougherty. Aaron is avid sports fan that resides in the Raleigh, NC area. He has a degree in Sport Management from North Greenville University and enjoys writing about, reading, and watching sports in his spare time.
When the Louisville Cardinals and Michigan Wolverines met for the 2013 NCAA Men’s Divison I College Basketball Championship in April at the Georgia Dome, much attention was garnered for the 20th anniversary of Michigan’s Fab Five team that played for the title in 1993. The Fab Five are commercial and household names. Heralded as the greatest incoming college basketball recruiting class in the nation’s history, the Fab Five lived up to their billing. Four of the Five played in the 1991 McDonald’s All-American Game.
Recruited out of high school as the #1,3,6,9, and 84th ranked basketball players, the Fab Five as freshmen and sophomores went on to take Michigan to the 1992 and 1993 NCAA National Championship Games. Just who were the Fab Five and where are they now?
- C Chris Webber: 6’ 10”, 245 lbs, Five time NBA All-Star, Oversees the Webber Foundation
- PF Juwan Howard: 6’ 9”, 250 lbs, Former NBA All-Star, Miami Heat Player
- SF Jalen Rose: 6’8”, 215 lbs, NBA 14.3 ppg avg., ESPN NBA Analyst
- SG Jimmy King: 6’5”, 210 lbs, Former NBA player, President of J King Solar Technologies.
- PG Ray Jackson: 6’6”, 220 lbs, 1996 CBA Rookie of the Year, Runs Ray Jackson’s Rising Stars
So who is this incoming class who some are saying will outperform The Fab Five? Here are the ESPN recruit rankings for those enrolling into UK’s basketball program this fall (1,6,14,46,47). These are great numbers, however these are not the player rankings from this year’s #1 recruiting class. These are the player ranking numbers from UK’s (University of Kansas Jayhawks) #2 ranked class. The University of Kentucky Wildcats has the prestigious honor of having this year’s top rated class:
- PF Julius Randle: 6’9”, 240lbs, TX, #2 overall ranked player according to rivals.com
- PG Andrew Harrison: 6’5”, 205 lbs, TX, # 5 overall ranked player
- SG Aaron Harrison: 6’ 5”, 210 lbs, TX, #7 overall ranked player
- C Dakari Johnson: 6’10”, 265 lbs, FL, #9 overall ranked player
- SF James Young: 6’6”, 200lbs, MI, #11 overall ranked player
- PF Marcus Lee: 6’9”, 205 lbs, CA, #19 overall ranked player
All 6 athletes were McDonald All-American players and five star recruits. Throw in the natives from Kentucky in PF Derek Willis ranked at #115 and SG Dominique Hawkins and there is no wonder why there is so much excitement building in the blue grass state for the upcoming hoops season.
Initially, there is some similarity between The Fab Five and UK’s incoming class. Team wise, the heights and weights of players are fairly close. Jimmy King and Julius Randle both hail from Plano, TX. And James Young and Chris Webber both played their high school ball in Michigan. Only time will tell if this year’s class can live up to the hype.
Randy Ayers, Assistant Coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, says, “A high school star has an adjustment period learning to accept sacrificing for the good of the team. That almost always takes a year or two, but the Fab Five found their niches immediately. Chris, Jalen, and Juwan were the go-to guys and the Texas kids were the defenders. And they played off each other beautifully.” Perhaps Kentucky’s new class can find their roles and identity quick enough to duplicate or even overhaul the success of The Fab Five.
However, in a NCAA College Basketball world where the one and done rule is in place, this will be highly unlikely. As Dick Vitale has been heard saying, “The Fab Five was once in a lifetime! What they achieved will never, ever happen again.”