DETROIT — Fab Five member Jalen Rose admits he’s biased when it comes to Michigan. So not surprisingly, he likes what he sees in Wolverines alums Derrick Walton Jr. and D.J. Wilson and their futures in the NBA. Oh, and he believes Michigan football will be playing the College Football Playoff this season.
Rose was in Detroit on Monday for his seventh annual Jalen Rose Leadership Academy Celebrity Golf Classic at the Detroit Golf Club. The event helps support the charter public school Rose operates in the city. Rose, who works at ESPN as both an NBA analyst and the co-host of the Jalen & Jacoby radio show and podcast, was joined by several celebrities associated with Detroit, as well as personalities throughout basketball and the sports world. Michigan basketball alumni Antoine Joubert, Terry Mills and Jimmy King, Rose’s Fab Five teammate, were part of the outing.
Eventually, the talk turned to Michigan athletics. Rose has a special rooting interest in Walton, a fellow Detroit native who has signed a two-way contract with the Miami Heat. That means Walton can play for the Heat as well as its G-League affiliate. Walton’s AAU coach was Curtis Hervey, who also coached Rose as a youth.
“I’ve watched him play and rooted for him for years, and supported him while he was at the University of Michigan,” Rose said.
Milwaukee drafted Wilson in the first round, adding the 6-foot-11 forward to a roster full of players Rose says fits exactly what head coach Jason Kidd wants.
“I’ve called them Team Futuristic for years,” Rose said. “They’ve drafted guys that play what I call position-less basketball. They can actually dribble, pass and shoot. [Wilson] can make the 3, he has size, he’s competitive. I think he’s going to make an impact and surprise a lot of people.
“And I’m not just being biased because he’s a Wolverine. And he wears No. 5. Well, he did.”
Rose wore No. 5 during his days at Michigan.
Rose also refused to back down from his prediction that Jim Harbaugh’s football team will make the College Football Playoff this year.
“It’s going to happen,” Rose said. “As a Big Ten-er, I respect what Wisconsin has done with their program. I appreciate what Northwestern has done with their program. They’re on the come-up, but when those teams get on the field, there’s just something about those helmets when they start knocking against one another, ours just tends to push theirs backwards. It tends to happen like that. It’s been tradition.”
Rose is attempting to build a lasting tradition with the JRLA, which opened in 2011. It is a tuition-free, open-enrollment academy that has more than 260 alumni and will serve 400 students in grades 9-12 this year.
“Our enrollment is up and we’re looking at possibly expanding, so we want to continue to grow,” said Eugene North, JRLA’s basketball coach.