The Bowman University Chrome Basketball release has now become a staple of the release calendar.
Last year, its popularity was driven by the presence of Victor Wembanyama. Of course, Wemby wasn’t a college player, but that didn’t stop Topps from making it the centerpiece of the release.
And this year, the heir to the King, Bronny James, is anchoring the release. Because it features a great first look at exciting players, there is no question that 2023-24 Bowman University Chrome Basketball is a fun release.
But is it worth investing in? Or should you wait for these players to appear in the pros?
Look no further than our 2023-24 Bowman University Chrome Basketball review for the answers.
In 2021, the entire hobby was rocked by news that Fanatics had received exclusive rights for producing NBA cards. The apparel giant soon followed this up by buying Topps and placing them in charge of the production of basketball cards.
That meant Topps, the classic home of NBA cards, was set to get the sport back for the first time since Panini obtained exclusive rights to the mark in 2009.
However, the snag is that Panini still has the right to publish professional basketball cards until 2026. Several lawsuits suggest that Fanatics has done anything but wait patiently for that time. But they still can’t put out NBA cards. So, the company has begun to offer basketball cards elsewhere.
Rather than dip into unlicensed cards, Topps chose to pursue the rights of college basketball teams.
In 2022, Fanatics announced a deal wherein they obtained the rights to use images from over 100 universities and 200 NCAA athletes. In basketball, these rights have primarily been used in the Bowman University Chrome Basketball product.
The first iteration of this product was 2021-22 Bowman University Basketball.
Using Bowman as the significant platform for college cards made perfect sense for Fanatics. It is the traditional vehicle for prospects in the Topps release lineup.
Therefore, using it for the most prominent basketball up-and-comers made sense. It also has the added advantage of having a great set of parallels. Your mojos, X-Fractors, and SuperFractors are highly bankable and beloved by fans. All of that helps this release stand out.
And, of course, this is not the first time Bowman has released basketball products. They first did so with Bowman’s Best Basketball. There is a nod to the old-school Bowman release here, with the retro 2007-08 Bowman Set insert.
However, that was a very different concept since they were pro-cards. But that was before Bowman had settled on its current formulation as the prospect’s home.
It is likely that when Fanatics gets the rights to pro-cards, the flagship release will be Top Chrome. Bowman will probably not be part of that setup.
It followed a similar product for football. It appeared with a 100-card base set and limited parallels at the time. It wasn’t clear how successful this product would be or if it would remain part of the release schedule.
But the quality and popularity of the Bowman brand and some vast names appearing for the first time (most notably Wemby) have given it a boost.
Therefore, the release of 2022-23 Bowman University Basketball, which included Wemby cards, did quite well. The franchise is now almost particular to continue as the main Topps release for college basketball.
The 2023-24 Bowman University Chrome Basketball release date is January 10, 2024. How does that fare in terms of the NCAA season? Well, play started on November 6, 2023. So, we are about two months into the season when it is released. Of course, the college basketball calendar truly heats up in March, so it certainly could be worse.
Indeed, this is a significant improvement on previous releases. The 2021-22 Bowman University Basketball boxes dropped on June 1, 2022.
That is almost two months after the final four. They made the same mistake with the 2022-23 release.
So, we are pretty happy that the 2023-24 Bowman University Chrome Basketball product dates are far better.
The product settled on a hobby and retail release when 2022-23 Bowman University Chrome Basketball hit the shelves. Alongside the obligatory hobby box, we also saw the release of blasters.
They were very easy to find. I often saw them even in the badly stoked Target in my neighborhood. That suggests wide distribution but also that they were not supremely popular.
We don’t have information on the retail release for 2023-24 yet. However, I would be very surprised if we didn’t see it again.
Another option this year is the 2023-24 Bowman Chrome University Basketball Breakers Delight Box, which offers only hits. However, we won’t see that box come out until January 17, 2024.
That is a good week after the hobby box drops. And since breakers like to use the latest releases immediately, that seems odd to me.
Here are the details of the various release formats.
Generally speaking, there isn’t as much excitement around college players as pros. But the 2023-24 Bowman University Chrome Basketball release has some eye-catching names.
Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese are the most high-profile women’s college basketball players ever. However, Clark does not have her Bowman 1st in this release because she already appeared in the 2022-23 release.
But Angel Reese does, and she is a monster player, averaging 11 rebounds and 19 points while leading LSU to the title. Her Bowman 1st could be an excellent investment, especially with low-numbered parallels.
The more prominent name (at least right now) is Bronny James. The son of LeBron James, possibly the greatest basketball player ever. People want his cards for family legacy reasons.
A Footsteps dual autograph card featuring both father and son James is a bonus. That is the ultimate chase here and will be worth a good amount. But the chances of landing that one are not exactly promising. Meanwhile, Bronny is an outstanding player but is unlikely to be anywhere near as good as his father.
An NBA player? Yes. A superstar? Probably not. Even if he develops into one, the pro cards are the ones that will retain value. Therefore, I have serious reservations over whether his college card will be worth much in the long term.
Sure, there are Bowman cards, and they have cool parallels. But ultimately, college uniform cards are not particularly desirable or valuable. Let’s be honest: these players will not do much in the NBA.
The Bowman University, Chrome Basketball cards, will have some value for those that do. However, there is a good chance it will go down once mainstream NBA rookie cards are available. Right now, these college cards are a shiny new toy.
But they will be forgotten when they are replaced by the shinier and newer Prizms (or, in the future, Topps Chrome rookies). Like your spoiled nephew flailing the previous Christmas gift, the second the new one hits,
However, there is an exception. The WNBA players often do better in their Bowman 1st variation. It is sad to say this, but the women’s releases generally have less cache than the men’s.
Since 2023-24, Bowman University Chrome Basketball has been a very male-heavy release from a highly respected brand; the cards of its best WNBA players tend to go for pretty reasonable prices. But that is the exception that proves the rule. And sadly, most people do not buy Bowman University Chrome Basketball for female players.
Finally, for whatever reason, Bowman University Chrome Football has caught on a lot more than its basketball equivalent. College football is bigger overall despite the popularity of March Madness.
In addition, this may be part of the general weakness of basketball cards we have seen in the last couple of years. But it gets less play and less respect than its gridiron equivalent.
The great advantage of Bowman is its gorgeous and well-established use of parallels. And the 2023-24 Bowman University Chrome Basketball release has the beautiful selection of these you expect.
The base set is limited to 100, which is good since it keeps the set oriented toward stronger players. That also allows the parallels to do the talking.
We already covered all the players that are attracting a lot of attention in this release. In particular, Bronny James, Caitlin Clark, and Angel Reese. But the next big thing in basketball (which isn’t always one on the horizon) has not been included this year.
You will have to wait for 2024-25 to see the inclusion of Cooper Flagg, the consensus top player of the 2024 recruiting class. That makes sense because you always want a player everyone salivates over in each release.
The Bowman releases are more oriented towards parallels. Inserts are usually low on people’s lists for these products.
But some of the inserts come in remarkable similarities as well. Therefore, they are worth taking a look at.
It’s one of those tributes to older designs that Topps loves so much. I like these generally. But would be more excited if the 2007-08 Bowman Basketball release wasn’t so darn bad.
Its inelegant and boxy design doesn’t leave much space for the picture while taking most of the real estate over with ugly borders. They also come on for six packs, so these will not be worth much.
The Bowman Big Kahuna cards are the Topps’ attempt to create a case hit for Bowman University. They come in one per 1:288 packs and have the necessary scarcity.
The problem is that, unlike Panini equivalents like Kaboom! and Downtown, it doesn’t have a clear identity or purpose. That, besides the fact that this is a college uniform release, means it doesn’t have the value we like to see from a case hit.
Even a Caitlin Clark 1/1 auto BGS 9.5 sold recently for $1,000.
A tribute to the highest percentage shooters in the NCAA. The Let’s Go, Sharp Shooters insert is a bit scarcer than its Prodigal Playmakers equivalent. I
t arrives in 1 of 12 packs, while many others in one per six. However, it is a new insert, so we can’t predict how much value it will hold.
This insert focuses on the players that make it happen: the assist makers. Great point guards run the game from the hip and make things stick. I like the design, which stresses the’s and’s on which the playmaker’s craft is designed.
This is the first year this insert has been included, so it’s hard to predict its value. But my instincts tell me it is not all that high, especially since they come on per 6 packs.
As mentioned, the biggest card in this entire release (quickly) is the Lebron James and Bronny James dual auto.
It is a landmark for the hobby. It is the first auto he has released outside his exclusive contract with Upper Deck. As we reported here in August, the player had been removed from the entire contract list of the Carlsbad, California-based company.
This may be a harbinger of an exclusive LeBron contract with Fanatics. At the very least, he is not tied down by Upper Deck anymore. But there are certainly other opportunities to score autos in these cards.
The biggest among these are the Chrome Prospect Autographs. They have a 100-player checklist, just like the main one. Most of the others are significantly smaller in scope.
Two issues are stopping the Bowman University Chrome Basketball release from enjoying the value we want. First, it is a college uniform release.
The fact that Fanatics got the college licenses and all that really doesn’t change things much. Furthermore, the basketball of this version gets less play than its football equivalent.
Considering these issues, how well does Bowman University Chrome Basketball play?
Evaluating the wax of releases with such a short life is always a problem. We are talking about a product that is basically brand new. It takes a box several years to mature to the more or less stable value it will enjoy.
Furthermore, it takes a few years for a new release to find its niche in the market. And, of course, in other cases, that niche is never found. With that in mind, these are preliminary numbers and do not necessarily reflect how these products will age.
|2021/22 Bowman University Basketball Hobby Box
|2022/23 Bowman University Basketball Hobby Box
You can immediately see that the price for one of these boxes is unpredictable. The 2022/23 Bowman University Basketball Hobby Box had Wemby and Caitlin Clark Bowman 1sts.
Therefore, it enjoys three times the value of the shockingly weak 2021/22 Bowman University Basketball Hobby Box. But even the more vital price isn’t much higher than the price of a brand new box.
It will take a few more years before we know the actual market value of these boxes. We will say that the signs so far are not particularly promising. This doesn’t appear to be a great box to hold.
So, the boxes of this product don’t do particularly well on the open market. But luckily, by basketball standards, they are also relatively inexpensive.
If so, they wouldn’t have to pass an exceptionally high hurdle for profitability at the current price of $149.95 per box. So, let’s see how well the best singles from Bowman University Chrome Basketball perform.
|2022-23 Bowman University Chrome – #101 Victor Wembanyama Green Auto 46/99 (PSA 10)
|2022-23 Bowman University Chrome Victor Wembanyama Prospect Autographs #101 (Raw)
|2022 Bowman University Chrome Scoot Henderson /25 Orange Refractor Autograph (Raw)
|2022 Bowman Chrome University Caitlin Clark Gold Refractor /50
|2023 Bowman’s Best University – Speckle Auto #BOACC Caitlin Clark 21/25
The Wemby cards sold for much more than any other player’s. That is not much of a surprise. However, the gaps are perhaps even more considerable than expected. There are hardly any cards worth over $1,500 for any other player. Nonetheless, many other autos and low-count cards have excellent value. It’s just nothing life-changing.
Nonetheless, we must remember that this is a relatively cheap box. Considering the price, it packs a fairly decent punch.
There is a better chance to make up this price with a good hit than with many other products, including quite a few that cost a good deal more.
When Bowman University Chrome Basketball first hit the shelves in 2022, it struck many as a pointless release. But there is no doubt that this release, and even more so its football equivalent, has found a nice niche in the market.
By securing the rights to the relevant institutions of higher learning, Fanatics has made this feel more official than the Panini College releases. In addition, using the well-known branding of Bowman and their well-known 1st designations and refractors was a master stroke.
Therefore, the big cards in this release enjoy a good amount of value. Of course, this is not an excellent product for stashing. The prices for unopened wax are not all they could be. There is also no reason to assume that will improve over time.
As I mentioned, the value of these Wemby or Bronny cards is likely to go down once standard rookie cards are available. Significantly, the beloved ones like Prizm or National Treasures. That will also take its toll on the boxes.
Your best play with 2023-24 Bowman University Chrome Basketball is probably to rip or participate in breaks and sell off any big cards quickly.
Panini is behind on publishing the latest cards, and there won’t be any for these players for quite a while. So, there is a good window there. But make sure to offload them before it’s too late.
An exception to this rule is the women’s basketball stars. The Bowman 1sts may be worth more than their WNBA Prizm rookie cards.
So, if you land an Angel Reese or an excellent Caitlin Clark, you may want to hang on to them. That adds to our verdict, that this is a fun rip with some scope for profit.
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