- Unique Feel
- Great Performance
- High School & College Approved
- Too Bouncy For Some
Wilson has been a leader in the sports industry for quite some time, and lately the company has come to dominate in basketball as well. Their first claim to fame was producing the first ever moisture absorbing basketball, which was widely heralded as being the easiest-to-handle ball around. For the past eight years, the Wilson Solution has been the official basketball of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Championships. The Wilson Evolution basketball is a slightly newer model, and with its lower price point, has come to be one of the most popular indoor balls of all time. In addition to its widespread popularity among casual players in pick-up games, the Evolution is widely used in high school basketball practices and games due to its combination of quality and price. With its status as one of the most highly praised basketballs at its price point, the only question is: Does it really live up to the hype?
The Wilson Evolution basketball is available in both the 28.5” intermediate size, which is used for women’s and girls’ basketball, and the 29.5” official size for men and boys 12 years old and up. The two sizes generally sell for $44.95 and $48.95 respectively. It is approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations, the national leadership organization for high school sports. It features patented Aqua-Grip laid-in channels in place of the normal rubber channels in order to enhance grip as well. The ball also has Wilson’s Cushion Core technology, which combines low-density sponge rubber with durable butyl rubber to prevent leaks, ensure a perfect bounce, and help the ball retain its shape through long-term use. The ball has a microfiber composite leather cover with deep embossed pebbling for their signature grip and feel and is wound with 3-ply nylon thread for high performance and durability.
What Are The Pros?
For most people, the main selling point of the Wilson Evolution basketball is the grip. The channels are nice and deep, and they’re leather rather than synthetic, which makes a bigger difference than you might think. The ball is a little tacky, too, which helps you feel in control of the ball the entire time you have it with no danger of it slipping away. While the grip starts out good, it really improves as the ball gets broken in and is outstanding by the time you’ve used it a few times. The release is good, too; the ball never feels out of control or sticky when you shoot and dribble.
Like other Wilson basketballs, the Evolution has that unique soft feel. Their trademarked composite leather cover functions much better than a synthetic ball. Some people would describe it as almost spongy, which makes it slightly tacky and easy to grip. The material also makes the ball absorb moisture well, so you won’t need to deal with it getting sweaty and slippery as the game goes on. Contrary to what you might think, this actually doesn’t make it harder to clean. In most peoples’ experience, the Wilson Evolution is gets no dirtier than any other indoor basketball.
Despite the low price, this is also an extremely durable ball. If you use it exclusively indoors, you can expect to get at least a year out of it, even if you play several times a week. While it does perform well outside on finished concrete courts, using it outdoors will affect the durability by quite a bit. Like any other soft ball, the ball will wear quickly on rough surfaces, so using it outdoors will cut the ball’s expected lifespan in half.
Some Minor Cons
The biggest downside to the Wilson Evolution basketball for most players is the uneven quality control. Some vendors, particularly online, sell balls that are harder and slicker than the normal Evolution with stitching that is uneven and occasionally sharp. Factory rejects seem to be fairly common on the market, so be sure to buy this ball either in person or from a well-reviewed seller to be sure that you’re getting an authentic ball with the quality that you’re paying for.
Another issue is that the Wilson Evolution can be hard to inflate properly. The ball does ship inflated, but it frequently requires a little extra air in order to be able to play right out of the box. You’ll need to use a decent pump (no dinky volleyball pumps here), and use a gauge if you have to in order to make sure it stays between seven and nine pounds for the correct feel. It does hold air very well once properly inflated, though, so this isn’t cause for frequent complaints.
The only other real downside to this ball is that some consider it to be overly bouncy. Some players might find that it bounces a little too hard and fast for comfortable playing. The bounce is not unpredictable or uncontrollable, though, so this isn’t a problem for most people. Consider your own style of playing here to determine whether this bounciness might be a problem for you.
For most players, the many upsides of the Wilson Evolution basketball will vastly outweigh the few negatives. At this price point, this ball is widely considered to be one of the very best options out there. The absolute beginner player might prefer to select something cheaper, particularly if the ball will be used outdoors, but for most intermediate-to-advanced casual players, the Evolution is a great choice.