I played basketball growing up through High School and a spent too much time on hooping in college until one day I figured out that I probably should focus more time on graduating (i.e. the NBA wasn’t calling anytime soon).
Back a few decades, we didn’t have the myriad of options hoopers have today. Stores didn’t have a wall displaying basketball shoes with several brands to choose from. We played in Converse Chuck Taylors (if you had money) and our ankles had to deal with it.
The same was true with finding a quality basketball. There was no choosing from a large selection at Amazon.com and having a leather Spalding basketball showing up at your door the next day. If you were lucky, your parents decided to splurge on a decent indoor/outdoor model. If you played on a team, you relied on the local YMCA or team to have supplied an indoor ball to practice with.
Today with my sons playing travel basketball, each family is expected to have their player(s) equipped with one of the best indoor basketballs to bring with them to practice and games. It’s crazy how things have changed over the last few decades.
What are the Cover Materials for Basketballs?
Today, the leading sporting goods manufacturers make basketballs using either rubber, composite leather or real leather. When you find your $10 basketballs at a local Mom and Pop shop or WalMart, these are going to be made of rubber. Some are better than others, and the price is right.
These indoor balls don’t have the bounce characteristics that a game ball will have, but are the most popular choice for playing outdoors, especially for kids.
A composite leather basketball is softer than a rubber one and delivers a much better grip for the player. They feel similar to a leather basketball but are not as pricey. Genuine leather basketballs are the highest quality available. They do require a break-in period but are the choice of the NBA and other pro leagues.
What Traits Does a Good Indoor Basketball Have?
What better way to understand how important the feel, texture, and performance of an indoor basketball is to a player than to look at the NBA.
The NBA is always experimenting with the best tools for their players, and in 2006 introduced composite basketballs with their provider Spalding. In short, players complained and the New Ball experiment failed. The composite microfiber just wasn’t the same as leather, and the league returned to genuine leather the following season.
Even more recently, the NBA changed their official basketball supplier to Wilson and the players sounded off on those indoor basketballs, too.
No one likes playing with a basketball that doesn’t have a good grip, or feels cheap. Especially when you are playing indoors where there is less tolerance for error with there being no wind or other environmental factors to deal with like playing on an outdoor court.
If the basketball doesn’t have a good grip, then it’s simply harder to dribble, pass, shoot and for those who are talented enough, dunk the ball. Too much grip can be a bad thing though too.
Another great trait of an indoor ball is that it will feel soft to receive, pass, and dribble. It will also feature a consistence bounce, so you know how it’s going to react to your dribbling and passing.
Here’s 9 Great Indoor Basketballs
We played with, dribbled, shot, and attempted to “palm” several basketballs and found the following eight indoor basketballs had the best combination of quality material that provided grip, was soft, and felt good shooting with.
|2||WILSON NBA Authentic Series||$96.99|
|3||Baden Elite Indoor||$69.99|
|4||The Rock Indoor Basketball||$59.99|
|5||Nike Hyper Elite||$99.99|
|6||WILSON NCAA Replica (Indoor/Outdoor)||$40.95|
|7||WILSON EVO NXT||$169.99|
|8||Molten X-Series GG7X||$72.32|
We Review: The 9 Best Indoor Basketballs
To help alleviate some of the frustration of finding the best ball, we have dribbled, tested, held, palmed, shot and played with a couple dozen basketballs to identify some of the best indoor basketballs on the market for you to choose from. Use the following reviews and rankings to help save you time and money when looking to buy a new indoor basketball for yourself, your son or daughter.
#1 Wilson Evolution
For those that grew up playing basketball in the 1990’s and 2000’s, the Evolution by Wilson was the ball that was chosen when there was an open play or organized run. The Evolution was one of the most popular indoor basketballs for good reason, they were popular amongst players and it also helped that thousands of high schools and colleges used them the United States.
The Wilson Evolution is not only one of the best-selling composite-leather basketballs today, but it’s also relatively affordable. The NCAA uses Wilson, and they are known for the grippy but soft texture that the composite cover delivers. Most players love the ball; however, there are some that like the feel of an all-leather ball more.
The popularity of this rock as it’s the most-highly rated indoor basketball on Amazon when it comes to its 4.8 rating and nearly 12,000 reviews! with The channels on this ball are pebbled that delivers an extra grip, and the bounce is very consistent. Pricing-wise, this basketball is affordable being in the mid-range of indoor balls, and you can’t go wrong if this is your choice and don’t want to put out the money that the official Wilson NBA basketball will run you.
#2 WILSON NBA Authentic Series Basketball
The Wilson NBA official game ball is one of the best indoor basketballs on the market. It replaced the previous Spalding ball used for games, and it is made of genuine leather. Most players will want to look at other options since these balls require a break-in period, where the NBA uses a “Bounce Machine” to get them broken in before being used on the court. Once these balls are ready, they have a very special feel to them, and if you want the best you know where to go.
Boasting a 4.6 rating on Amazon in just short of 1,500 reviews, the Wilson NBA game ball is all leather; however, the league does fans a solid and offers cheaper versions of the ball available for purchase from both the NBA online store as well as authorized resellers. The less expensive versions of the ball are typically composite leather and there is even and indoor/outdoor version available for purchase for those who prefer a ball they can use at the park as well as the gym.
#3 Baden Elite Indoor
With a 4.7 star rating over 1500 reviews on Amazon, the popular Baden Elite Indoor basketball is the company’s premium composite leather basketball that is used for college play. The cover is designed using Cushion Control Technology to deliver the grip expected by players beyond the high school level. It’s feel is similar to the Wilson Evolution, and uniquely features a recessed stealth soft valve system and moisture grip.
The moisture wicking properties is a favorite for players who have sweaty hands, and it has a slightly truer ball flight than balls without recessed valve stems. Some players will prefer a ball that is a little less tacky feeling when dribbling; however, compared to the Evolution this is another great indoor basketball.
#4 The Rock Indoor Basketball
The Rock indoor basketball is a high school (NFHS) approved ball that is produced by John Stote’s Anaconda Sports. The brand is not widely known; however, if you seeing anyone rocking The Rock basketball, you know they’ve done their research. The high-quality ball offers grooved channels with a C2C Premium reinforced composite cover that delivers additional grip to the player with pebbed seams (or channels).
The combination of the two provides a super soft ball that makes this option one of best rocks out there for those preferring a ball with extra grip. It is made out of composite leather and features superior durability. Comparatively priced with other major brands, if you are a basketball player or fan, this model is worth considering. At the publication of this post, the Rock isn’t widely available but you can get it for $55 at Korney Board Aids.
#5 NIKE Hyper Elite Official Basketball (29.5)
Can you talk about basketball without talking about Nike. The shoe company known for having signature shoes for NBA legends Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant have dipped their toes into the actual basketball market and unsurprisingly, put a quality product. Along with the Wilson Evolution, Nike’s Hyper Elite basketball is one of the more popular rocks we’ve personally seen at open plays.
Rated 4.7 stars with 500 reviews+ on Amazon, the Hyper Elite is a worthy option that doesn’t just perform well on the court, but the brown and black ball is beautifully designed. It has the signature Nike Swoosh and a unique pebbled pattern. Oddly, we couldn’t find the Hyper Elite on Nike’s own website, but if you’re interested in copping the Nike Hyper Elite, you can get one for around $100 at Amazon.com.
#6 Wilson NCAA Replica (Indoor/Outdoor)
With nearly 7,500 reviews on Amazon and rated 4.7 stars, the Wilson NCAA Replica indoor/outdoor ball is one of the best basketballs on the market for the money. As of this post, you could pick up a Wilson NCAA Replica basketball for approximately $60.
For those who want to save some money, this leather basketball offers a good bounce and suitable grip that is made of composite leather. Definitely a huge step above any rubber basketball on the market, and you can use it on the playground and at the gym for training. The NCAA Replica is extremely durable which comes in handy for the unforeseen while playing outside of an indoor gym.
#7 Wilson EVO NXT
The Wilson Evo NXT is one of the newest basketballs produced by the popular sporting goods company. In 2021, the Evo NXT was introduced as the NCAA’s official game ball for both men’s and women’s college basketball. It is also approved by both the NFSB and FIBA, and is the official ball for the BAL (Basketball Africa League).
Not only is the Evo NXT used by several professional and amateur leagues around the world, combines elements from the Solution as well as incorporating new tech that makes it an even better basketball and is made from composite leather.
The primary improvements in the Evo NXT are the Extended Range Tech that makes it easier to put spin on longer range shots, and the soft core construction makes the ball feel light. Once adjusted to the softness of the ball, players love the Evo NXT. If you will be playing different brands in games, then you may want to consider buying a different model.
#8 Molten BG3800 Series, Indoor/Outdoor Basketball
Molten produces the basketballs that are used in FIBA international competitions which also include the Olympics. The Molten BG3800 indoor basketball features the company’s 12-panel design which means players have more channels on the ball (which are narrower than other brands) made of premium, composite leather.
The channels are also shallower, but for players who like to make contract with this part of the basketball, this feature makes it a perfect fit. Molten uses their GIUGIARO cover design that aids in tracking the ball rotation by players and overall basketball visibility. The overall feel of the ball can be a bit sticky for some players, and it is recommended to try out the ball before making a purchase decision.
#9 Spalding TF-1000 Classic
This is more subjective, but I’m not a fan of the way basketballs like Spalding TF-1000 feel. That said, the TF-1000 is extremely popular and has been around for a hot minute. The company quit making the ball for a while and brought it back several years ago as the Spalding TF-1000 Classic. The TF-1000 is a composite “faux” leather basketball that offers wide channels for easier ball handling, exceptional grip and control.
We’re not a huge fan of the TF-1000, but this is no doubt high-quality option that is built for performance and has a rotationally balanced butyl bladder to offer enhanced air retention. The TF-1000 has nylon windings that deliver outstanding structural integrity. The problem? The ball can get slippery once the ball gets moist with sweat with many customers preferring the legacy TF-1000 model.
Most Affordable Indoor Basketball
Wilson NCAA Replica
You just can’t beat a high-quality basketball that isn’t just loved by hoopers of all ages and experiences, but one that is south of $50 USD in price makes the Wilson NCAA Replica Basketball our choice for most affordable basketball. That’s what you get with the Wilson NCAA Replica indoor/outdoor basketball. If you shop around, you might even find the composite leather basketball available for less than the sticker as well. A great choice for those on a budget who can’t afford to have multiple basketballs to play both inside and outside.
Best Indoor Basketball
You can’t go wrong with the choice of the NBA. The Wilson NBA game ball is the best indoor basketball on the market today. FIBA fans may argue; however, they get our nod. One our favorite things about Wilson, is they make different versions of the game ball so those who want to play the model the pros use but have a more affordable option can always downgrade to the indoor / model. Nothing beats the real thing. The NBA even offers signed game balls and more for purchase at their store too if you are a collector of autographs and authentic NBA merchandise. Definitely our top pick of the basketballs on the market for indoor usage.