The University of Michigan has made it to the Final Four eight times. It has made it there in five of the last six decades, missing out only in the first decade of this century. Michigan captured the NCAA championship in 1989 under Steve Fisher, winning an overtime thriller against Seton Hall, 80-79.
This year is its second Final Four appearance under John Beilein. He’s the program’s winningest head coach.
Let’s take a crack at identifying the best Wolverine players of all time.
Gary Grant (1985-88)
This great point guard is fourth on the all-time Michigan scoring list and is the school’s all-time leading assist man by a wide margin. Grant was twice Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Glenn Rice (1986-89)
One of the greatest shooters in the history of the college game, Rice led the Wolverines to their only national title. He’s their all-time leading scorer.
Cazzie Russell (1964-66)
Jazzie Cazzie was a scoring machine. He averaged 27 points per game during his college career and 30.8 in his senior season. Michigan won the Big Ten crown in each of Russell’s three seasons, and he led the team to the Final Four (third place) in 1964. Russell was National Player of the Year in 1966.
Rudy Tomjanovich (1968-70)
These days, most fans remember Rudy T as a successful NBA coach and perhaps as the victim of Kermit Washington’s famous haymaker. But Tomjanovic is one of the best big men ever to play the college game. At Michigan, he averaged 25.1 points and 14 rebounds per game. As a senior the numbers were 30 and 15.5.
Bill Buntin (1963-65)
Buntin was the center on two Big Ten championship teams and on the 1964 Final Four unit. He averaged 22 points and 13 rebounds during his Michigan career. Buntin is one of five Wolverines whose number has been retired.
Rumeal Robinson (1988-90)
The point guard on the national championship team, Robinson is second on Michigan’s all-time assist list. He shot 53 percent from the field during his college career.
Mike McGee (1978-81)
He’s number two on the all-time school scoring list, just three points behind Cazzie Russell. In his final season at Michigan, McGee averaged 24.4 points per game with a .515 shooting percentage.
Henry Wilmore (1971-73)
This name won’t be familiar to many because Wilmore had no pro career. In college, though, he averaged 23.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. His best year was his sophomore season in which he averaged 25.1 and 9.8.
Chris Webber (1992-93)
Webber was only at Michigan for two years, but what years they were. The most fab of the Fab Five, he led Michigan to the national championship game in each of his two years at the school. Had he stayed for a third, Webber almost certainly would an all-time first-teamer.
Phil Hubbard (1976-79)
Hubbard was a sophomore on the 1976 national runner-up. That year, he averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds per game. The next year, he was even better (19.6 points and 13 rebounds). After that, a serious injury slowed him down considerably, but he’s still number four on Michigan’s all-time rebounding list. He’s also among the five Wolverines whose number has been retired.
Trey Burke (2012-13)
Burke was the point guard on the team that made it to the Final Four, and the championship game, in 2013. In the Sweet Sixteen game against Kansas, Burke scored 23 points, had 10 assists, and hit a long three-pointer that sent the game into overtime. In the championship game against Louisville, Burke scored 24 points. He was named National Player of the Year.
Burke was a lottery pick in the NBA draft. His pro career hasn’t fully taken off, though he has averaged double figure points in four of his five seasons.
Ricky Green (1975-77)
Green was the best player on the 1976 national runner-up team, for whom he averaged 19.5 points per game. Green played in the NBA for 14 years, leading the league in steals in 1984.
Jalen Rose (1991-94)
Rose was the star guard on the Fab Five teams that played in two national championship games. He’s eighth on both the all-time scoring and the all-time assists lists.
When Webber left the program after two years, Rose stepped up and averaged 20 points per game in his third and final season at Ann Arbor. As a pro, Rose averaged more than 20 points a game four times, a statistic that surprised when I dug it up for this post.
Juwan Howard (1991-94)
Another member of the Fab Five, Howard is 19th on the all-time scoring list and eleventh in all-time rebounds. Like Rose, he had fab numbers the year after Webber’s departure: 20.8 points per game, on .557 shooting, and 8.9 rebounds.
Howard played in the NBA for 20 years. During the first eight years of that career he was good for around 18 points and 8 rebounds just about every season.
Roy Tarpley (1982-86)
Tarpley is ranked 15th all-time in scoring and fifth in rebounding at Michigan. He was Big Ten Player of the Year in 1985 and helped revive a program that had fallen on hard times by its standards.
Fourth Team :
Louis Bullock (1995-99)
Bullock ranks third on Michigan’s all-time scoring list. He made 42 percent of his three-point shots during his Wolverine career.
John Tidwell (1958-61)
Tidwell averaged 20.0 points per game for his career, the seventh best mark in Michigan history. He went on to become a doctor.
Nik Stauskas (2012-14)
Stauskas starred alongside Trey Burke on the 2013 team that made it to the championship game. The next season, he was Big Ten Player of the Year and a second team All-American, averaging 17.5 points per game and making 44 percent of his three-pointers. A lottery pick, Stauskas has struggled in the NBA. Currently, he’s a reserve for the Brooklyn Nets.
Campy Russell (1972-74)
He had two awesome seasons at Michigan, during which he average 21.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Campy went on to average 16 points and 5 rebounds per game during an 11 year NBA career.
Loy Vaught (1986-90)
Vaught was a rock-like presence in the middle on the 1989 national championship team. The following season, he averaged a double-double — 15.5 points and 11.2 rebounds per game.
Vaught is 22nd on the Wolverines all-time scoring list and third in career rebounds. He shot .617 for his career, third best in Wolverine history.