Remember the Fab Five? Those "Hip Hopsters" from Michigan who burst onto the scene 24 years ago with baggy shorts, black Nike shoes and black socks. They trash talked, shaved their heads, and played the game with an attitude. Their controversial antics garnered much attention. And college basketball fans across the country didn't know whether to hate or love those crass teenagers.
That infamous Class of 1991 - Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson - is considered by many as the top recruiting class of all time. And they delivered with two straight NCAA title game appearances as freshmen and sophomores.
Guess what? They're baaack! Only this time disguised in scarlet and gray as the antithesis of the original Fab Five, more straight-laced and humble, not a bunch of narcissists with inflated egos.
Nope, this Buckeye class is cerebral with a blend of athleticism at the guard spots, wing players that can shoot the three, and a physical post presence. The perfect storm.
Meet the New & Improved Fab Five:
- JaQuan Lyle, 6-5/220 Combo Guard, Huntington Prep (WVA)
It has been an interesting ride for the Evansville (IN) native. He was ranked as No. 33 in the 2014 Class playing for Huntington Prep. He signed with Oregon, but did not play due to academic reasons. He enrolled at IMG Academy (FL) for one year and now his academics are in order.
This season at IMG, the former 5-Star averaged 18 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Last season at Huntington Prep he posted 17.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.7 assists. During his recruitment, he received 29 offers, including Kansas, Arizona, UCLA, LSU, and Michigan State.
Lyle has the ability to play all three guard positions, but primarily the one and two spots. He was the final piece to the 2015 Class, signing January 29.
- A.J. Harris, 5-9/160 Point Guard, Dayton Dunbar (OH)
The 4-Star recruit was the first to commit to OSU. He is rated No. 81 in the national rankings. Harris averaged 18.9 points, 5.1 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.1 steals his senior season.
He won a Division-II state title as a freshman and lost in the state semifinals this past March. Harris knows how to lubricate an offense, whether it be 100 mph or 50 mph or 15 mph. He can dictate tempo with vision and court awareness.
- Austin Grandstaff, 6-5/180 Shooting Guard, Rockwall (TX)
He is an excellent three-point shooter (40%). He averaged 29 points per game, recording 11 30-point performances and in two games this year, he scored 50 and 53 points. Not afraid to let it fly. Grandstaff has been working hard on his game, developing better ball-handling skills and increased athleticism.
The 4-Star received 19 offers, including Florida, Arizona, and Duke. This kid will be perfect for the spread pick n' roll out on the perimeter
- Mickey Mitchell, 6-8/170 Small Forward, Plano West (TX)
Mitchell is the true definition of a hybrid player. He can play all five positions. This 4-Star talent averaged 10 points, six rebounds, and six assists and guided Plano West to a Texas Class 6A State Championship. The team finished 33-2 overall.
Knee and back issues throughout his career has slowed down his progress, but a rigorous weight-training regimen is just what the doctor ordered. Before the injuries, Mitchell was ranked as high as No. 40 in the nation. He received 10 offers, including Florida, Kansas, Oregon, Duke, and North Carolina.
- Daniel Giddens, 6-10/235 Center, Oak Hill Academy (VA)
The strong and powerful youngster played for prestigious Oak Hill Academy and led his team to a 47-1 record. Giddens averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks. He transferred from Wheeler in Marietta, GA, just before the season started.
In video study, he shows great footwork and the rare ability to command the ball by posting and re-posting until he is open. Giddens shows tenacity on defense and should make a great tandem in the paint with Trevor Thompson (Virginia Tech transfer). In fact, he has the skill-set to be an immediate starter.
The 4-star received 13 offers, including Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, and North Carolina. Giddens could easily remind one of a young Kevin Garnett.
Thad Matta has had tremendous success as the head coach of Ohio State. His resume speaks volumes: A 299-94 record (.761 winning percentage); the most school wins (299) surpassing Fred Taylor; 20 or more victories in each of his 11 seasons; five B1G Conference titles; four B1G Tournament titles; and two Final Four appearances in 2007 and 2012. His 2008 team won the NIT.
The reason for the 47-year-old's success? Recruiting. His best class, dubbed as the "Thad Five", was in 2006 with 5-star recruits Mike Conley, Daequan Cook, and Greg Oden, 4-star David Lighty and 3-star Othello Hunter.
Matta also managed to land 5-star Kosta Koufous and 4-stars Jon Diebler and Evan Turner in 2007, 5-Stars Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas and 3-Star Aaron Craft in 2010, and of course, last year it was 5-star freshman spectacular, D'Angelo Russell.
But in terms of talent at all five positions, this class is arguably, one of Matta's finest. It is ranked 10th by 247Sports, 8th by ESPN, and 10th by Scout. It has the ability to make an immediate impact for the Buckeyes.
Given time, this freshman class has the potential to become starters by mid-season and take the college basketball landscape by storm. And if these kids can hang together at least two seasons, they'll have a shot to punch their ticket to the Final Four in the coming years.