Most casual college hoops followers have the same answer as to who made up the famed "Fab Five" at Michigan in the early 1990s: "Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard and the two other guys."
With family in Ann Arbor, Mich., it was a second home to me growing up. My uncle had Michigan football and men's basketball season tickets, so naturally, the Wolverines became my team, no matter the sport, and still are today.
With all the hoopla around landing Webber, Rose and Howard, the signings of Jimmy King and Ray Jackson to round out college basketball's most famed recruiting class seemed like side dishes. If Webber was the filet mignon, King, a 6-foot-5 guard from from Plano, Texas, was simply the rice pilaf - not the most desirable item on the plate, but the meal wouldn't be complete without it. He was constantly overshadowed, but never once whined. He could have gone to Notre Dame or Kansas to be a star, but he wanted to be part of something special. It's part of what made him so darned likable, along with his gap-toothed, ear-to-ear smile, flamboyant personality and high-flying capabilities.
Webber, Rose and Howard left school early, Webber after two years, Rose and Howard after three, for NBA riches. But the 1994-95 Michigan team, which no one expected much out of, was one of my favorites, and one of the hardest-working teams Steve Fischer ever had. They were kind of like Pete Bell's team at the beginning of "Blue Chips."
That year as a senior, King averaged career highs in minutes (34.2), points (14.7) and rebounds (5.0) per game for a team ravaged by the NBA Draft. The Fab Five era ended in obscure fashion, with King and Jackson's team falling to Western Kentucky, 82-76, in the opening round of the 1995 NCAA Tournament.
King played just 64 NBA games. He went on to win the CBA's Most Valuable Player award in 1998 as part of a lengthy minor-league pro career which also took him overseas.