Sportico - The popular sports manufacturer was poised to showcase its new game ball, the NCAA Evo NXT, on the biggest stage—with millions of potential customers tuning in. But the product has instead received widespread criticism from players, coaches and, of course, Twitter, where none other than Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban joined the chorus by posting that the balls looked like “$5.99 specials from Walmart.”
While the Evo NXT was introduced during the regular season, teams were not required to use it before the tournament, which is why it’s just now catching the attention players and fans. The points of contention range from its bright orange color to its “micro touch” covering. Wilson, a Chicago-based company that has provided the official NCAA balls since 2002, continues to defend its product on social media to muzzle some of the public backlash.
Wilson, owned by Amer Sports Corp., seems to be happy about its latest game ball but clearly not everyone in the sport is thrilled about the evolution and innovation behind it. The criticism comes as the partnership between Wilson and the NCAA is set to expire in August 2023. It’s unclear how the mixed reviews from the new game ball will factor into negotiations for a new deal.
“Every ten-year-old basketball player in Indiana either has one already or wants,” Indiana senior associate athletic director of strategic communications Jeremy Gray tweeted. “Don’t get it, but that’s probably the point.”
Nobody, and I mean NOBODY ignores the phrase "don't fix something if it's not broken" like the NCAA.
Of the entire multitude of issues they have staring them in the face, they chose the most important instrument of the game, and fucked with it for the grandest stage of them all.
Why didn't they just adjust the height or the radius of the rim while they were at it like this is fuckin MTV Rock n Jock?
(Sidebar - of all the things greedy owners, big-time agents and contracts have ruined in sports, the thing I hate the most is how players can't compete in things like "Rock n Jock" anymore. I get it. You're paying a guy a zillion dollars and leveraging your franchise's future on him, the last thing you need happening is him pulling a Robert Edwards on a beach touch football game. But "Rock n Jock" was the fucking best. Blew regular league all-star games out of the water. And Roger McDowell was perhaps the Babe Ruth of them. The more I think about it the more I think the history of Rock n Jock deserves its own blog.)
That all said, I watched Loyola get dusted by Ohio State and couldn't believe how sloppily one of the most disciplined teams in the country played in that game. It looked like nobody could hold on to the ball. Or shoot to save their life. (Again, Loyola went into the game with one of the highest shooting percentages from the field in the Nation, and pretty sure they set an NCAA Tournament record for lowest field goal %).
I'm not making excuses, Ohio State used the same ball and had zero issues dunking in the Ramblers' faces all day.
But I thought I was taking crazy pills watching them.
At least I know I wasn't crazy.
The NBA replaced long-time sponsor Spalding for Wilson this season and select NBA coaches and players like Devin Booker have been vocal about their displeasure with the new ball. Like the NBA, college players and coaches will also be forced to adjust.
Wilson is gaining visibility, but the blowback from current and former college players, and the dismay and mocking of TV viewers may turn those precious eyeballs into unwanted glares.
According to a release from the National Sports Goods Association, the NCAA and Wilson unveiled the new Evo NXT that included the NCAA's logo with gold foil embellishments. The balls have a micro-touch cover that adds extra grip, while the core is softer and helps with control, per the release.
p.s. - Not trying to disparage an awesome Chicago company like Wilson by any means here. Just think the NCAA should have required the entire country to play with these balls (rimshot) all season long, and not wheel them out for the big dance. But what do I know?