Will There Ever Be Another Fab Five?

C.J. MooreCollege Basketball National Lead WriterApril 6, 2013

8 Mar 1992: Michigan Wolverines forward Juwan Howard, guard Jalen Rose, and forward Chris Webber (l to r) look on during a game against the Indiana Pacers.
Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Twenty years have passed since the Fab Five broke up, yet they still dominate the discussion. 

Some Michigan fans love them. Some Michigan fans are Michigan fans because of them. Some feel like they set the program back because of the NCAA sanctions that followed them. 

On Saturday, Michigan will play in its first Final Four since Chris Webber left the scene after calling the timeout Michigan did not have in the 1993 championship game. 

As much attention has been paid to this year's team, almost as much has been given to the Fab Five. 

That team has been erased from the record books because of the Ed Martin scandal, a booster who gave money to four former players including Webber. The banners from the Fab Five's back-to-back appearances in the championship game were taken down. The school played imposed a 10-year disassociation from Webber that ends May 8 of this year. 

But whether the school ever recognizes them again or welcomes them back, their legacy will live on.

Their talent, their star power and their cultural impact changed the game. 

It's fair to say there's never been another group like them. The question remains: Will there ever be? 


Will Their Talent be Matched? 

Kentucky coach John Calipari has been on the verge of putting together a recruiting class worthy of a glitzy nickname. Last season, Calipari started three freshman along with two sophomores and won a national championship. 

 Calipari's current recruiting class for next season has six players ranked in the top 18 by Rivals.com. Three are in the top five and four are in the top 10. The top-ranked player in 2013, Andrew Wiggins, is still a possibility. The Wildcats also have the No. 129th-ranked recruit. 

With or without Wiggins, this is the best recruiting class of all time from strictly a ratings and depth standpoint. Calipari could not only start all freshmen, he has enough to make the class his entire rotation. 

But will they be as good as the Fab Five? 

Until we actually see them on the court, it's too soon to say. It's too soon to tell whether they will have a transcendent talent like Webber, who at his peak was one of the NBA's best players. Juwan Howard is playing his 19th season in the NBA and he averaged better than 17 points per game in 10 of his first 12 NBA seasons. Jalen Rose played 13 years in the NBA, led the Wolverines in scoring his freshman year and averaged better than 20 points per game twice in the NBA. 

Until Kentucky's Signature Seven—how's that for a nickname?—show their abilities in UK uniforms and later in the NBA, it's too soon to say that they'll be able to match the Fab Five.  


Can Anyone Match the Fab Five's Star Power?

If you polled college basketball fans and asked them to name the coach of the Fab Five, how many would get it right? Half? Three out of five maybe? 

Steve Fisher is the answer, by the way. Yet Fisher was more of an extra than a star during the Fab Five's two-year run. All of the attention was on the players. 

That's what has changed in the 20 years since. The coaches are now the stars. By the time the players become household names, they are a couple years into their NBA careers. 

Webber, the biggest star of the Fab Five class, stayed in school for two years. He would be gone before we had his number memorized in the one-and-done era. 

The players still matter and no one is buying a Calipari or Roy Williams or Rick Pitino jersey, but those are the names we know best. Those are the men we actually get to know or feel like we know. 


Cultural Impact 

 They were a rebellious group with something to prove. 

We were reminded of that two years ago when ESPN's documentary "The Fab Five" brought the Wolverines back into our living rooms. 

Rose and Jimmy King made it known that they did not like the "Uncle Toms" from Duke, which was not a fair portrayal of the Duke program or its black players. (Grant Hill's response is worth reading.) 

But it was appropriate that Rose and company got us thinking again. It was appropriate that the comments upset some. 

The Fab Five was not politically correct. The Fab Five did things its own way. 

From baggy shorts and black socks to wearing warmups without a Michigan or Nike logo, they challenged the system. They changed the system. 

It's not likely we'll ever see a group so brash and so full of personality. We'll never see trend-setters like the Fab Five again. 

Few coaches would allow it. And what could a current group do to change fashion anyway?

Bring back the short shorts?