When it comes to composite leather basketballs, it is difficult to argue that Wilson have produced the best. The Wilson Evolution sets the standard for indoor basketballs, and they have another winner in the Replica NCAA Game Basketball which is designed for indoor and outdoor use.
With a MSRP of $29.99, The Replica NCAA Game Basketball is priced in line with most other indoor/outdoor composite leather balls. Despite that, it doesn’t feel cheap at all, feeling just as grippy as some of the more expensive balls.
While it is sold at its full MSRP on the Wilson store and other big sports equipment stores like Dick’s, over on Amazon I was able to purchase the ball for around $20, making it a very tempting choice for the budget-conscious. The Amazon listing I used is this one.
If you’re someone that gets paranoid about ruining your basketball cover, the Replica NCAA Game Basketball is a good choice, as not only is it one of the more durable balls on the market, but replacement cost is minimal.
Grip is often the first thing people look at when purchasing a basketball. A softer ball with more grip makes it easier to palm, receive passes and make shots. The NCAA Game Basketball is a basketball that is suitable for outdoor use, so naturally it is less grippy than indoor-only balls like the Wilson Evolution. It doesn’t quite cut it as an indoor game ball, but it features a nice amount of grip and feels very soft, especially after being worn in for a few games.
As a composite leather ball, it’s ready to use straight out of its box and doesn’t require a break in period unlike genuine leather balls. The composite cover also has moisture absorbing properties, making it perfect for those with sweaty hands.
The NCAA Replica Game Ball has a good amount of bounce, meaning the bounce doesn’t feel flat. However, the bounce doesn’t seem perfectly consistent, meaning if you’re attempting skills like crossovers, the ball might not end up where you were expecting it to be. Being a budget basketball, that’s understandable, but if a consistent bounce ranks high on your list of requirements the NCAA Replica Game Ball may not cut it.
Pebbling and Channel Design
The ball’s pebbling across the panels isn’t particularly deep, but provide a good amount of grip. The nice thing about a lot of Wilson balls is that the channels themselves are pebbled, meaning they are not smooth and you won’t suddenly find your fingertips slipping off the channels, especially if they are sweaty.
The channels feel quite shallow and neither wide or narrow. If you prefer playing with deeper channels, you might want to look elsewhere, but the difference is not particularly big.
Being a basketball suitable for outdoor play, durability is no doubt a key criteria for rating a basketball since the wrong basketball can easily be torn to shreds if played on asphalt surfaces.
Wilson got things right with the NCAA Replica Game Ball, making sure the ball is hard enough to withstand rougher surfaces, while not sacrificing too much in the way of grip. This is definitely a ball I would primarily use for outdoor play, if you’re planning to mainly play indoors with the occasional pick up game outdoors, you’d be better off with a softer composite leather ball.
Overall Wilson have produce a great ball in the NCAA Replica Game Ball. Although it’s not the softest composite leather ball out there, it holds up well better on rougher surfaces, unlike many other ‘indoor/outdoor’ balls. Furthermore, it presents incredible value for money thanks to the big discount of its $29.99 MSRP on Amazon.
This basketball is currently ranked 1st on my list of recommended outdoor basketballs.