The legacy of the Fab Five lives on in college basketball history. Any time there is a vaunted recruiting class they are compared to the greatness of the 1991 Michigan rookie class. Three notable future NBA players Jalen Rose, Chris Webber and Juwan Howard highlighted a group that was able to reach two national championship games. Despite not winning either their impact on the game and their style of play was a look into the future of college basketball.
The Fab Five’s greatness was tarnished after leaving Michigan, allegations of paying players forced the university to take down banners that were earned from the sweat and hard work of 19-year-olds. Whether or not you find the allegations right or wrong in the landscape of college basketball, I will never agree with a university ultimately punishing is student athletes by trying to take away the history they built in their time there.
Michigan basketball has quietly been one of the most consistent programs in college hoops, since 2013 they have been in the national title game twice, reaching the sweet sixteen twice and the elite eight twice. Only in 2015 did Michigan not make the NCAA tournament. Add in one Big10 regular season title and two tournament title and you can see why the loss of longtime coach John Beilein was a punch in the gut to the program. The loss of Beilein accompanied by the loss of last season top three scorers, Ignas Brazdeikis, Charles Mathews and Jordan Poole, all have announced they’ll being entering the draft and signing with agents temporarily left Michigan with a lot of questions heading into next season. But with the quick acquisition of Howard as Head Coach things are looking positive for the future of the program.
Howard will have a tough test in his first season. Returning team leaders Zavier Simpson, Jr., Guard and Jon Teske, Jr., Center will be the cornerstones of the rebuilding process. While Howard brings a lot of name recognition and NBA star endorsements he is still going to be starting from behind in recruiting. While eventually this will be a projected strength Howard has spent all of his coaching career within the NBA ranks and will most likely have to rely on his staff for current recruiting efforts. Still based on the recent success of NBA stars to college coaches the turnaround of talent in the program shouldn’t be a multi-year problem.
I believe that Juwan Howard will be a great college coach but most importantly Michigan made a choice that is great for the school and allows the alumni to remember a great time in their sports history. Jalen Rose recently spoke about the hiring of Howard squashing the beef between the Fab Five and the university. With Rose on board and Howard at the helm the next step will be to bring back Chris Webber and finally end this unfortunate saga.
Kudos to Michigan on getting a great coaching and reigniting a legacy that shouldn’t have been forgotten.