Kicks on Cards #3 | NCAA Championship Edition

Big Shoes for the Big Dance

Date: Apr 8, 2024
Author: Zack Schlemmer
Topics: How To Collect, Kicks on Cards, NCAA Tournament, Zack Schlemmer
Length: 864 Words
Reading Time: ~5 Minutes

Kicks on Cards is back again with a special set of college hoops cards in honor of the 2024 March Madness tournament. If you’re reading this article shortly after it was published today before the men’s championship game, you’ll enjoy this look at some collegiate on-court heat while you pass the time before tip-off. And if you’re reading it after the game, well, you’re going to enjoy it anyway! 

This week, we have a mix of retro and modern cardboard, starting with a brand new Caitlin Clark Bowman U NOW card and finishing with one of the most iconic college basketball cards ever—which also just so happens to have a sighting of one of the most iconic college hoops shoes ever. 

2023-24 Bowman U NOW #26 Caitlin Clark // Nike Kobe 6 “Mambacita”

Currently one of the hottest college basketball cards on the market, this Bowman U NOW card features Caitlin Clark running down the court after hitting her game-winning buzzer beater (a deep, step-back 3-pointer from the Hawkeyes logo, no less) in a 40-point performance versus Michigan State on January 2, 2024. Sure to be one of the young star’s most iconic moments for years to come, the game-winner is immortalized on this card, complete with a look at her Nike Kobe 6 “Mambacita” sneaker. This special colorway of the Kobe 6 commemorates the late Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi. Admittedly, you don’t get a great look at the shoe here, but it’s a black and white colorway complete with Gigi’s #2 uniform number in gold and the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation logo on the heels. 

2023-24 Bowman U Chrome Prodigal Playmakers DJ Wagner // Nike Kobe 6 PE

Kentucky’s star freshman DJ Wagner gives you another look at a Nike Kobe 6 on this Bowman U Chrome Prodigal Playmakers insert. The colorway appears to be a Player Exclusive because there’s no Kobe 6 that hit retail that looks quite like this one with a white upper and black and grey accents. First released in 2010, the Kobe 6 is still one of the most popular shoes on the court for college and pro players. The low-top sneaker with a scale-like texture across the upper has proven to be one of the best performance basketball shoes for over a decade now. If they’re good enough for Caitlin and DJ, they’re good enough for me.

2008 Press Pass #6 Michael Beasley // Air Jordan 8 Retro “Aqua”

We rewind to 2008 for our next card, where we see Michael Beasley in his days at Kansas State in the Air Jordan 8’s iconic “Aqua” colorway—nice color coordination by Beasley to pair the purple-accented sneaker with his Wildcats uniform. Assuming Beasley wasn’t rocking an original Jordan 8 from 1993, this pair would be the 2007 retro, which was the first bring-back of the quintessential early ’90s sneaker.

1998 Miles Simon SP Top Prospects #7 Miles Simon // Nike Air Max Uptempo

We couldn’t have a conversation about college hoops’ sneaker greatness without some Arizona Wildcats representation. I didn’t have a card with Mike Bibby in Foamposites at my disposal, so I’ll go with his teammate Miles Simon, seen here in the Nike Air Max Uptempo. Considered by many basketball sneaker fans to be one of the coolest hoops shoes ever (include me among them), the Air Max Uptempo debuted in 1996 and was worn by a plethora of college and pro players. It was also the first basketball shoe released by Nike with a full-length visible Air unit from heel to toe.

1996 Signature Rookies #S1 Jerry Stackhouse // Air Jordan 10

I can’t tell you anything about this obscure Signature Rookies card set, but I can tell you about the Air Jordan 10. This Jerry Stackhouse card features not one but two shots of him in the original Air Jordan 10 “Powder Blue.” This colorway, of course, references Michael Jordan’s college days at UNC, so it’s quite the perfect shoe for a Tar Heels player to wear in 1995. The Jordan 10 with Carolina blue accents followed the Air Jordan 9 “Powder Blue” as only the second original Air Jordan colorway to release in a Tar Heels look since the Air Jordan 1 “UNC” in 1985. After the Jordan 9 and 10, the “UNC” theme continued on the Air Jordan 11 “Columbia” and many other flagship Jordan models in the years to follow.

1993 Classic Draft Picks #1 Chris Webber // Nike Air Flight Huarache

Here’s that iconic college basketball card I was talking about in the intro. This glorious shot of Chris Webber about to throw down a two-handed tomahawk dunk with his tongue out includes a look at his Nike Air Flight Huarache sneakers. The Air Flight Huarache was the debut basketball shoe to feature Nike’s then-new Huarache technology. Designed by legendary Nike sneaker architect Tinker Hatfield (who also designed the Air Jordan 10 above), Huarache sneakers feature a lightweight, foot-hugging design inspired by stretchy neoprene water skiing booties. Michigan’s Fab Five helped introduce the Flight Huarache to the world in 1992, and it stands today as one of the great college basketball sneakers—mostly because of Webber and his teammates. I also have a card of Jon Barry at Georgia Tech in a pair, but something tells me you’d rather see this one.

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