Should 2K Bring Back All-Time College Teams to NBA 2K?

EA Sports is bringing back college football to the video game space and it’s an exciting thing. However, as long as it’s been for the college game on the gridiron, it’s been even longer for it on the hardwood. The last time we saw an NCAA college basketball game was all the way back in 2009 when EA Sports released NCAA Basketball 10.

For context, Blake Griffin was in his rookie year in the NBA at the time as he graced the cover of NCAA 10. Also, the PS4 was still three years away from launch. We are now years into the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S era. Aside from the excellent mods, the closest thing we had to a true NCAA basketball video experience in recent years is in NBA 2K17 and even that was a while ago now.

NBA 2K17 feels so long ago.

2K17 featured college teams and even had the legendary Team USA Dream Team from 1992 — and it had a rare Charles Barkley appearance as he was the second highest rated player on the team (96 overall) only behind some guy named Michael Jordan. 2K16 had colleges in MyCareer, but NBA 2K17 added another layer to the college team integration.

Of course, you were able to play in college in MyCareer choosing between Michigan State, Illinois, UConn, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Arizona, Louisville, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Georgetown. But there was also a cool feature that allowed you to play as All-Time teams for those schools, featuring legends from those programs. They cleverly did this by taking NBA players who were already in the game and then just putting them on to the all-time squads.

Want to see Allen Iverson on Georgetown or Deron Williams on Illinois? In 2K17, you could do that. It was a really fun way to enjoy the Play Now mode in 2K17. We had to wait until 2K21/22 for college inclusion once again, and it was exclusive to MyCareer where you were able to play both in college and the G-League, which was a cool addition at the time.

After that, we simply got college jerseys in the City and Neighborhood in 2K23 (which was still cool). And in 2K24, there hasn’t even been any jerseys, though they did bring back the free HBCU gear that was great to see. Now, I totally understand why they slowly moved away from the collegiate content because, for one, the college storyline in MyCareer would probably start to get a bit stale after a while. Also, this is an NBA game after all.

That being said, 2K hasn’t released a new College Hoops game since 2007, years before the player likeness lawsuit. And to this day, College Hoops 2K8 is still one of the best sports games out there. So when 2K brought the college experience to NBA 2K, it was exciting. It was cool seeing my MyPlayer rock an Illinois jersey and then a West Virginia uniform in later NBA 2K games. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the authentic arenas, but it was still nice to see.

It would be great to see proper college integration return again in the game. The focus should always be about the NBA of course, but a small, permanent addition would be neat. But the good news is that, even if they never bring college elements to the game again, we can still enjoy a collegiate MyNBA experience thanks to the MyNBA community creating the rosters and uniforms for several popular schools.

And although the PC version of NBA 2K has been the worst received by fans, you can also get a full blown college basketball mod for NBA 2K23 (there appears to not be as deep of one for 2K24 but I could be wrong). So basically, there are workarounds despite not having official integration.

Even if NCAA basketball games don’t return, it’s still great to see college football return with EA’s game coming out. It’s just feels good to get the virtual collegiate experience again, whether it’s on the field or the court. But if we ever see a game box cover featuring a basketball player dribbling a Wilson ball that says “NCAA” on it again, then that would be the icing on the cake.