When Panini America rounded up most of the licenses for producing trading cards with college logos and trademarks, we knew we’d see a flurry of products before long that focused on players’ pre-professional careers.
The company has created individual issues for numerous major schools but they’re also taking their best known product names and making college-focused sets for those. The college license also affords Panini a bit of a bridge. They can obtain autographs from rookies and use their college photos to get mid-to-higher end products on the market earlier in the season.
2015-16 Panini Contenders Basketball Draft Picks is their first standalone college hoops issue. Each box has 24 packs with eight cards per pack. Five autographs are promised in each box which reduces the average cost per hit to a very reasonable level.
While the checklist is heavy on NBA newcomers, there are some established NBA veterans shown in their college uniforms which is a fun little trip to the recent pas (or a good memory jogger of where some guys played if you can’t remember).
My local card store (Triple Cards in Plano TX) reported he either never received the offer or just forgot to order this one. Meanwhile leading on line retailers are generally between $130 and $150 per box. Blaster boxes, with two autographs, are available in stores at $22 per box.
There are several base subsets which include Season Tickets, School Colors and Old School Colors. In addition there are several other insert sets.
Here’s what we pulled (and there were no duplicates):
Collegiate Connections: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson/Stanley Johnson;Jabari Parker/Kyrie Irving; Andrew Wiggins/Joel Embid
Class Reunion: Jimmy Butler; DeMar DeRozan; Dwayne Wade
Game Day: Kelly Dubre Jr; Frank Kaminsky; Cameron Payne Michael Qualls; DAngelo Russell; Joe Young
Season Ticket Cracked Ice Parallel (#d to 23): De’Andre Jordan
Autographs: Montrezl Harrell; Kevon Looney; Tre Lyles; Shannon Scott (Scott’s father, by the way, is Charlie Scott, who was the first black player to receive a scholarship from North Carolina and also had a stellar NBA/ABA career).
Autograph Draft Ticket (#d to 99): Branden Dawson
With a fairly limited number of higher-end products on the market in the early stages of the season and few showing players in their NBA uniforms, Panini may score some early season sales with Contenders Draft Picks but it helps if you’re a big college hoops fan.