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2022-23 Bowman’s Best University Basketball Review: More Wembanyama Smoke?

2022-23 Bowman’s Best University Basketball is set to release on June 28th and is pre-ordering for $110, so is this affordable basketball product worth the risk?

In this article, we’ll break down the product details and what we know about Bowman U thus far to help you decide if this is a rip, a hold or a pass.

Here’s what we know. 

2022-23 Bowman’s Best University Basketball product introduction 

This is the first year of 2022/23 Bowman University’s Best Basketball, and it follows two other Bowman U releases: Bowman U Inception (multisport) and Bowman U Chrome Basketball, both of which we reviewed. 

While these are still prospect cards, they’ve definitely made some improvements over the Bowman U cards of the past. For one, the cards are now licensed, meaning they can feature the college mascots, logos, and team names.

While college cards are never going to be better than NBA cards, these do at least look 10x better than last year’s version.

This product also, of course, includes autographs of Victor Wembanyama in his Mets92 jersey., and Caitlin Clark — we were lucky enough to hit a Clark auto /99 in a Bowman Chrome U break that we recently posted on YouTube. 

YouTube video

But now, after two Bowman U releases following the same mold, let’s get real. It’s time for a tough conversation. 

While we don’t have the checklist out yet, there’s been a trend in the previous Bowman U releases: Victor Wembanyama has not been featured on base cards or any of the autograph sets beside a base auto parallel.

Or, in other words, Topps is leaning into the “first chance to pull a Wemby auto” aspect, but you’re almost equally likely to get struck by lightning (somewhat hyperbolic, maybe, but you get the point). 

It almost feels like Topps has a very finite number of Wemby sticker autos and wants to stretch that appeal to as many brands as possible. And maybe in the long run that will be a good thing—limiting population—but for people opening the boxes right now, it’s tough.

If that’s the case for this Bowman’s Best checklist when it’s unveiled, check your expectations before buying this product. 

What to Expect from 2022-23 Bowman’s Best University Basketball

Bowman’s Best University Basketball should be a decently long rip: 12 packs of 5 cards. That lands right in the middle of the 24-pack Chrome and the 1-pack Inception products that have led.

What’s in each box? Per Topps, expect to find

  • 2 autographs
  • 12 base card refractor parallels

And a note on the release year: in the future when we’re looking back on this product, it might be a bit confusing that this is the Wemby year. Most basketball fans know 2003-04 to be the LeBron rookie year, and in the same way, 2023-24 could become an iconic Wemby rookie year. Just bear that in mind since this is a 2022-23 product.

2022-23 Bowman’s Best University Basketball Inserts and Parallels

Topps is back to blessing the game with stated odds on basketball products, so we know the inserts and how rare they are.

Here’s the list:

  • Hardwood Warriors – 1:3 Packs
  • Flashing Lights – 1:6 Packs
  • Constellations of Greatness – 1:480 Packs
  • Neon Neophytes – 1:6 Packs
  • Bowman Masterpieces – 1:18 Packs
  • Bowman U Buckets Die-Cut – 1:12 Packs

Again, it will be interesting to see whether or not Wembanyama ends up on any of these cards, or even a base card.

And speaking of base cards, here’s a look at the colors you can pull:

  • Refractor – 1 per Pack
  • Speckle Refractor – 1 Per Master Box
  • Mini-Diamond Parallel – #’d to 299
  • Purple Parallel – #’d to 250
  • Aqua Lava Refractor – #’d to 199
  • Blue Refractor – #’d to 150
  • Pink Lava Parallel – #’d to 100
  • Green Refractor – #’d to 99
  • Green Mini-Diamond Refractor – #’d to 99
  • Gold Lava Refractor – #’d to 75
  • Gold Refractor – #’d to 50
  • Orange Refractor – #’d to 25
  • Red Refractor – #’d to 10
  • Red Lava Refractor – #’d to 5
  • SuperFractor – #’d 1-of-1

The Autograph parallels look like this:

  • Refractor Parallel
  • Blue Refractor Parallel – #’d to 150
  • Green Refractor Parallel – #’d to 99
  • Gold Lava Refractor Parallel – #’d to 75
  • Gold Refractor Parallel – #’d to 50
  • Speckle Refractor Parallel – #’d to 25
  • Red Refractor Parallel – #’d to 10
  • Red Lava Refractor Parallel – #’d to 5
  • SuperFractor Parallel – #’d 1-of-1
  • Printing Plates Parallel – #’d 1-of-1

There are some cool multi-autos, too. The autograph sets are as follows:

  • Dual Autographs – #’d to 25
  • Triple Autographs – #’d to 15
  • Flashing Lights Autographs – #’d to 99
  • Bowman U Bucket Die-Cut Autographs – #’d to 99
  • Neon Neophytes Autographs – #’d to 99
  • Bowman Masterpieces Autographs – #’d to 99
  • Constellations of Greatness Autographs – #’d to 10

Investing in 2022-23 Bowman’s Best University Basketball

Bowman’s Best University basketball is in its inaugural year, but it shouldn’t be a good long-term investment

Here’s why.

Investing in sealed product

When flanked by Bowman Chrome U and the multisport Bowman Inception that happens to be loaded with prospects in football, too, Bowman’s Best is (ironically) the least attractive option. And if I didn’t recommend either of those products for long-term holds, I’m not going to endorse this one.

The truth is, college cards don’t age well. And while the Wemby rookie auto card is actually technically a licensed professional autograph, the very long-shot odds of pulling any Wemby card out of this product will hurt it over time. 

The first year of Bowman Chrome U basketball was released at $200 and now sells for about $50. The second year has Wemby, so it probably won’t lose 75% of its value, but it’s not fair to expect it to increase, either. 

The same logic should translate to Bowman’s Best, but the one catch is this: at just $109/box, it could be a fun rip.

Investing in 2023 Bowman’s Best Rookies

There’s a 0.1% chance that when Fanatics becomes the NBA-licensed cards and takes over from Panini, somehow these Bowman 1st cards become very collectible, like Bowman baseball, and prospect cards are suddenly worth vast sums of money.

Don’t count on it. My gut (and the dismal performance from autos in the previous year of this product) tells me that Bowman’s Best basketball is a stay-away for long-term rookie investing, too. 

Bowman’s Best 2023 rookies bottom line: A fun rip with minimal risk

While I wouldn’t count on hitting a monster Wemby auto, this box might be the most attractive basketball rip in a long time because of the combination of price and potential. 

It’s $110 and you get 60 cards. If you really wanted to sell them all, it would be hard to lose too much money even if you largely strick out. 

If you’re lucky enough to hit a nice Wemby, it could be life-changing. If not, you’re probably going to recoup half your investment.  But if you can live with that and want a little rush, ripping a box might actually be the best move.

What do you think of this product? What will it be worth in 5 years? Let us know on Twitter @card_lines and sign up for our free newsletter right here. 

2023 Bowman’s Best checklist

Stay tuned – checklist coming soon.

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes is the co-founder of Solaro Shades, an Amazon #1 Bestselling novelist, and a lifelong sports card collector. His nonfiction work has been featured in Forbes, Inc., MarketWatch and more. At CardLines, Jesse’s specialties are basketball and football cards, not to mention making informative video and Instagram content.
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