College basketball returns in NBA 2K21 MyCAREER with 10 NCAA teams

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NBA 2K21 MyCAREER will feature 10 playable college basketball teams.

Taking a play out of EA’s Madden playbook, NBA 2K21 will give basketball fans a limited college basketball video game experience. In detailing NBA 2K21‘s MyCAREER, 2K revealed that a portion of the story mode will take players on a path through high school and college.

This journey will include the ability to play on one of 10 officially licensed college programs: Michigan State, UConn, Florida, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, UCLA, Villanova University and West Virginia.

"In NBA 2K21, this year’s narrative, The Long Shadow, tells the story of Junior – the son of a beloved baller who faces the challenges of trying to make it to the NBA, balancing legacy while carving his own path through high school to college."

It’s unclear how long players will experience this college atmosphere as it seems to be just a stepping stone towards the pros. In all likelihood, it will be a limited tournament to replicate the final stages of March Madness.  It’s not at all a full-fledged NCAA basketball experience, but it’s a taste of the college basketball environment which is still kind of neat.

In addition to the college experience, NBA 2K21 MyCAREER will take players through draft preparation, including choosing the right representation, managing team interviews and performing at the NBA Combine.

The story mode will feature some very familiar Hollywood faces including Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy), Michael K. Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire), Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, Guardians of the Galaxy), and Mireille Enos (The Killing, World War Z). There will also be cameos from cover athletes Damian Lillard and Zion Williamson.

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As I mentioned, this seems to be following in the footsteps of EA with its Madden franchise and college football. With Madden 20‘s Face of the Franchise: QB1 mode, we saw the limited return of college football. It was the first time since NCAA Football 14 that fans could play as a Division 1 college football team in a video game. It’s returning again in Maden 21‘s Face of the Franchise mode with some new teams.

In a recent call with 2K, I did ask if the inclusion of these 10 college teams was a step towards a potentially bigger NCAA basketball game but obviously that couldn’t be answered. In all likelihood, it’s probably not.

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Despite progress being made on the issues surrounding the use of player name, image and likeness for college athletes — including granting more NIL rights to players — there’s still a lot of hurdles to clear before we get any potential college football or basketball games. For now, it seems these limited modes with select college teams is as close as we’ll get to college sports video games.