March Madness is here, Duke has been eliminated and all is right with the world.
Indeed, it is a solid time to be alive and a basketball fan, and now we must discuss Campus Legends — 2K's latest themed MyTEAM pack.
The collection is a tribute to March Madness, featuring various legendary college ballers who went on to NBA careers of uh ... varying ... degrees of success.
It's a fun concept that 2K appears to have pulled off without bringing down a rain of NCAA lawsuits, and the following are my takeaways on the best and worst offerings after a week of road-testing the cards on tap.
It's Duke-heavy, but it's also the only collection where Jimmer Fredette can rightfully receive an entire suitcase of Hall of Fame badges.
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Ruby Shabazz Napier
[Comic book “Kersplang!”] Great galloping garbage toppers, Batman!
Ruby Shabazz is a ubiquitous lump of coal in your digital stocking. He is garbage — the MyTEAM equivalent of plastic six-pack rings that stick to the faces of unlucky marine life.
I say this with All Due Respect, as I personally witnessed Shabazz Napier thunk dagger after dagger into bewildered opponents over the course of the 2014 NCAA tournament, and I want nothing but the best made-up digital card-thingys for him.
Stats to Know: Lateral Quickness (48), Ball Control (52), Acceleration (74).
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Ruby Trey Burke
By far the best of Campus Legends' dumpster crop of Rubies. Trey Burke is a workable point guard option, and unlike the similarly rated Shabazz ruby, Trey can actually put the ball in the basket.
Stats to Know: Off-Dribble Mid (90), Speed (94), Speed With Ball (94).
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Amethyst Jahlil Okafor
The biggest problem with Campus Legends Okafor is he comes pre-loaded with two personal fouls and three defensive aneurysms per half.
The good news for Okafor fans, however is, Amethyst Jahlil is a very Jahlil-y card, and captures his Duke days fairly well.
You get stong offensive post moves, serviceable-ish defense and decent rebounding.
That said, unless you pull him in a pack, you’re better off springing for an amethyst Jokic in auction if you’re looking to grab a new, offensive-minded big.
Stats to Know: Strength (95), Post Fadeaway (90), Ball Control (58), Passing Vision (31).
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Amethyst Doug McDermott
Dougie Buckets entered the hearts and souls of dad-ly Americans across the country with his play at Creighton, where he rained threes at 45.8 percent clip (!) from 2010-14 and established himself as the coach’s son to end all coach’s sons.
Campus Legends Dougie is a solid homage to that Dougie. Amethyst McDermott is deadly from deep and not a total sloth on the defensive end. In short, he’s one of two amethysts in this collection I would recommend, though a far cry from my favorite amethyst in Campus Legends.
Stats to Know: Open Three (95), Post Fadeaway (95), Defensive Rebound (84), Speed (67).
Amethyst Buddy Hield
Once you escape its bottom-tier labyrinth of burning tires and Shabazzes, Campus Legends begins to show some payoffs, starting with the deep-range missile launcher that is Amethyst Buddy Hield.
Amethyst Buddy is basically Deep Shooters Korver, minus the HOF badges and plus the ability to score off the dribble.
Campus Legends Hield is also the cheapest MyTEAM card that I've found with Contested and Moving Three ratings north of 95. Buddy also hasn't been bogged down with dumpy Speed and Lateral Quickness ratings, which helps mitigate his underwhelming defense.
Stats to Know: Off-Dribble Three (96), Speed With Ball (88), Vertical (85).
Amethyst Shane Battier
This is it. This is the one you need.
If you don’t get any other card from this collection, you’ll have done well landing Campus Legend Battier, who has the lateral quickness of a Dungeness crab and a seemingly unstoppable deep-ball.
To give you an idea of how versatile this card is, I was playing the Georgetown Moments challenge, where you’re tasked with beating a team of All-Time Hoyas led by Allen Iverson, and was able to use Shane Damn Battier to clamp down Allen Damn Iverson after diamond Jay Williams got in foul trouble (more on Jay in a minute).
This is the long way of saying this a great card, and I want it to speak at my wedding.
Stats to Know: Lateral Quickness (97), Pass Perception (94), Steal (92), Open Shot Three (89).
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Diamond Jimmer Fredette
He’s hot and he’s cold, he’s yes and he’s no.
While he looks like a worldbeater on paper, Campus Legends Jimmer isn't quite the all-range deathstar his four Hall of Fame shooting badges make him out to be.
The Jimmer is potent, to be sure, but if you’re like me and you got your hands on this card expecting to LaMelo Ball out and scorch the earth with rage-quit-inducing 40-foot jumpers, you realized reality didn't quite meet expectations.
After a week of usage, the reality is that Campus Legends Dimmer is less “basketball John Wick” and more “Klay Thompson on a 40-point night,” and I’ve found his skillset is best applied off the ball at the two, where his Hall of Fame Catch and Shoot badges can really shine.
My only real gripe with Diamond Basketball Tebow: 87 Vertical, 30 Driving Dunk. Sad trombone.
Stats to Know: Off Dribble Three (98), Vertical (87), Driving Dunk (30).
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Diamond Tyler Hansbrough
I wanted to like this card. I really did.
You can’t help but get a little excited when you see a diamond Psycho T card entering the MyTEAM ecosphere, particularly one with offensive and defensive ratings of 99 and 98. That is frog-town bananas.
Something is wrong here. Whether that’s with me or the card, I can’t nail down. But the truth is I haven’t had any luck with Campus Legends Hansbrough in the four or five games I’ve played with him, which could be due to human error or the fact I had him coming off the bench for Diamond Christian Laettner (through whom all things are possible).
Stats to Know: Open Shot Three (88), Post Fadeaway (94), Block (56), Lateral Quickness (46).
Diamond Jay Williams
Hoo, boy. This is the guy right here.
Jason Williams was an absolute killer at Duke, and I personally remember hating him on an atomic level during the 2002 NCAA tournament. Which is really neither here nor there.
As for the card, Diamond Jay is a relative steal. He doesn’t have the sticker price or the marquee mystique, but make no mistake: Campus Legends Jay Williams is just budget Diamond Derrick Rose, and what he lacks in aggressive dunking tendencies he makes up for with a more reliable three-point shot and a HOF Acrobat badge.
Stats to Know: Speed (98), Driving Dunk (85), Speed With Ball (98).
Diamond Carmelo Anthony
"Welp. Good game."
As I’ve said before, Carmelo Anthony is already a walking 2K cheat code, and this sport-tuned Diamond Melo honoring his national championship at Syracuse is as close as I’ve seen to an honest-to-God game-breaker in MyTEAM this year.
Master Melo’s quick release, master the world.
Stats to Know: They’re all good.
Diamond Bill Walton
"If you’ve ever guzzled Jimsonweed by an active volcano as Jerry Garcia delivered your firstborn in the overpowering swelter, you have experienced Diamond Bill Walton."
-- Bill Walton, probably.
(This card is a mix between Team USA Patrick Ewing and All-Star Dwight Howard in terms of being a beautiful, sweating, all-purpose monstrosity.)
Stats to Know: Offensive Rebound (97), Contested Mid-Range (90), Post Fadeaway (97), Passing Vision (94).
Diamond Christian Laettner
Another hulking Team USA reward for another super pricy collection.
I’m a big fan of Diamond Christian Laettner, who — fittingly — is as insufferable and effective in the game as he was in his Duke-y heyday.
In short, this is a power forward with a 95 Contested Three rating, 2,046 points in total attributes and an Intangibles rating of 40. You do the math.
Stats to Know: Contested Mid-Range (97), Shot Contest (97), Help Defense IQ (96).
Overall Rating: B
Campus Legends is a lopsided set with crown jewel pieces at the top, a spotty middle-tier and complete detritus at the bottom.
Your best play here is to grab the worthwhile amethysts (Battier, Hield) or save up for one of the more attainable diamonds (Jay Will, Bill Walton or Jimmer as his price comes down) and keep it moving.
There’s some value to be found, but Campus Legends is top heavy with a handful of the big men on campus.