DDSCB 23 Review - Connections I make still do it for me. I think it will for you, too.

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Reviews Windows PC 🏀 NBA and College Basketball Simulator Games

DDSCB has a very dedicated community that continuously works to raise this game with every version. It helps that Gary Gorski is one of the most receptive and responsive developers in this branch of the gaming tree.

Hi there.

I’m going to dispose of my normal two-page intro, mainly because the First Four kicks off tomorrow night, and I’d rather this be out before the NCAA Tournament kicks off on Thursday.

That said, if you’re like me, you’re in the middle of the best few weeks of the sports calendar year. From Conference Tourney Week last week, to THE BEST FOUR DAYS OF THE SPORTS YEAR (ie, Thursday-Sunday), to DOING THE SAME THING NEXT WEEK…the NCAA Tournament is, far and away, my favorite singular event of the year.

So, it’s fitting that this review is for Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 23, the newest installment of the franchise by Gary Gorski and Wolverine Studios. This year’s version has a bunch new under-the-hood, while giving you a lot of the strong program-building experience you have grown to expect from this product.

Just how well does this version stack up to previous versions? Let’s get to it.

(I bet the 3-4 of you who read my reviews on the regular are probably happy that there isn’t another 500-600 words to skim over. To the one of you that isn’t happy with this, I apologize, though I truly doubt your actual existence.)

Graphics / Interface

The game continues to rely on the GUI that has been the foundation for several versions now, and with good reason. The game is clean and sharp. I don’t need to wax romantic about it. It’s really good.

However, there is one big change, which debuted in Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 23. That is the new in-game 2D model.

The game has had a 2D in-game model for a long, long time. The players were more boxes, with sizes based on their own size. I liked it. But this…

…this is quite nice. It definitely feels more like basketball. It’s still going to be 2D in a computer basketball game, so it’ll have it’s limitations…but this screen feels way more like actual basketball than anything up to this point.

I said this in my DDSPB review, but the scoreboard in the middle is a REALLY nice touch, with the look of an actual scoreboard at the game.

I do wish there was more done with the left side of the screen, and said as much in my DDSPB review. I think I’ve settled on the PBP and coaching options trading spots, so you have more PBP showing. The coaching options don’t require as much space as needed, and putting it next to the lineup makes more sense to me than having the PBP there.

I have a couple of wishes, of course:

1) I wish we had a running ticker for news, scores, recruiting ranks, perhaps recruiting commits, etc. I would absolutely love to have scores of other games show up throughout the game. Since all games are simmed at the same time, that information is already logged. (I’ll go deeper into my wish regarding this ability later on.)

(This would also be a good candidate for some of that space on the left side, if Gary is receptive to trading the PBP and coaching options areas.)

2) Small quibble, but I wish there was the ability to reach the Coach Assignments screen from the Coaching Staff screen. It just makes too much sense to me.

3) As always, historical tournament brackets need to be in the game. There is a bit of a disconnect that you cannot see past NCAA Tournaments. It takes away from the history to me. I guess this is to try and keep the data down, but…you don’t need logos here, right? Just columns with the actual scores by region and round, then the Final Four and championship. Add in All-Tournament teams to that screen, and the Alamanc suddenly is a massive win for the game. This is where FBCB still wins, even a decade and no new versions later. This has been ignored for too long. I hope it stops being ignored, and put into the next version.

Grade: 10. The game is sharp, as always. The upgrade to the 2D screen is a major win. I rated this a ten a year ago, and the game has only gotten stronger in this regard.


Customization in DDSCB is the same as previous versions. So I’ll keep this section short (no, seriously).

You have five modes you can play. Challenge Mode makes you answer to a board, and limits the schools you can coach at the start. There is a direct correlation between your initial ratings and the schools you have available to you. So if you want to start at a bigger school, you’re going to have to up those ratings. This makes sense, though I would love to try the “High School Coach/Guy Off The Street” challenge, where you have low ratings, but get thrust into a higher-level situation. That would be a rather big challenge.

The basic options have not changed: Standard or Pro/Rel.

Please, don’t do what I do every time a new version comes out, and overlook the menu at the top of the screen. It always hides in plain sight, and I miss setting up the finer details of a universe as a result. This is something I wish were on the left, to allow it to stand out more. However, I can reach a logical conclusion that this is way more about me than about the layout of the menu.

Here are said finer settings. Again, this has been consistent for several versions. One thing to note is the 1-100 Adjusted vs Real scale. The adjusted scale sets the ratings for the college basketball universe, while the real scale sets the ratings for the overall (pro included) basketball universe.

In order to use the NCAA Real World Mod, you need to toggle the “Use Custom File” option under Association Building Options. When you check that box, a window will come up, giving you five options to choose from.

Next, you create your coach. This is the same as previous versions as well; you go through each screen, starting from the basics, moving to your general coaching philosophies, then your skills and potential, and finally a coaching job.

Note: Your ability to pick a school in Challenge Mode is directly tied to your ratings as a coach. So, if you want to coach at a bigger school, you’ll have to start at a higher talent level.

Clearly, this serves the game well. It’s been in place for a long time. There isn’t anything I can think of that would improve this process. One addition I would love to have, and I imagine this could be done through a mod akin to the Real World mod, would be to add support for previous NCAA setups. This exists in Fast Break College Basketball, and I found that to be a lot of fun. (I’m also a sucker for the old Big East and smaller, regionalized conferences.)

I spoke to Gary about this, and he was not convinced that this would be something used by enough people to make it worthwhile. (I think he’s still snakebit by the Euroleagues thing in DDSPB a few years ago.) I understand his point, but I would also point out that this portion of the game is complete, as far as I can tell. It hasn’t been touched for a while. Building support for a couple of older models and NCAA Tournament structures (say, the 32- and 64-team formats) could be beneficial to prevent the game from feeling stale. Building support for this would also be a one-off, no? Like, you set it, and once it’s complete, it’s always there. You wouldn’t need to touch it again. 

That was already done in DDSPB, where you can play in any historical NBA setup, or replay any year from 1976 onward. 

Gary does a great job of building a current world environment. However, this is one area where I think his rigidity towards staying in just the current world may work against him. There is very likely a portion of the community who don’t buy DDSCB, and stay playing a decade-old FBCB, because they don’t like the current world of superconferences. (Honestly, I spent a few years playing FBCB far more because of this exact thing, and go back to that game from time-to-time because of this.)

One way to perhaps open this up for inclusion, without disrupting the current structure, is to utilize the tournament maker area of the game as an experimental ground. Right now, there are only three kinds of tournament you can utilize: 16, 32, and 64. Why not give that area of the game is makeover, and allow for ANY format, up to 358 (the current number of men’s D1 teams).

Let me explain my thought process here: I have no idea how difficult that is. My simplistic coding brain thinks that, if you can code any format to 16 teams, you can code any format, because you would be utilizing the same 2-16 team format for anything beyond 16…just multiplying how many times you have to do it. If it could be created in Tournament Maker (and yes, I’m influenced by the videos I see on YouTube; Bordeaux has a bunch with NCAA14, and NattyKash created a ridiculous college hoops one). To me, it’s an easier path towards opening up DDSCB to more customization in this realm, if Gary is worried about setting the current state of things back.

Grade: 10. It’s been set for several versions now. The game does what it’s intended to do, which is to create a real-world environment, while offering enough variations of that (yes, pro-rel aside) to keep it fresh. While I will always yearn for the ability to play NCAA as it was, this does exactly the job it is supposed to do, and needs to do. I won’t ding a grade because of what I want, versus what the goal is. That’s just selfish.

Gameplay / Sim Engine

There has been much done under the hood for this year’s version of DDSCB. Here is what the Wolverine page says:

I’m going to briefly discuss the in-game experience, because the main focus of the changes are in other areas. The in-game gameplay and AI is still solid; if you like coaching in-game, you will greatly enjoy DDSCB. I feel like my coaching adjustments have a definitive impact on the game, for better or worse. As far as a coaching sim goes, this is, if not the best game, on the short list of the best in the genre. There aren’t many changes to this area of the game, which is why I’m not writing much about it here.

As far as changes to the game (at least, those advertised):

First and foremost (as that’s what you encounter first when you enter the game), let’s talk about the update to facilities management.

The old system was to email the board, ask for upgrades, and that was it. (Note: You still meet with the board at the end of the year, and can request upgrading the facilities.) The overwhelming majority of the time, you were denied. So this is light years ahead of where things were. And I think these are smart changes. With “Amenities”, the game addresses NIL without incorporating it into the game (which is something Gary indicated he was hesitant to do, and I can understand why). Giving you more control over your training and wellness is extremely important, especially in years where you don’t have many scholarships to fill. 

I did that here with my Providence squad, because I only have two scholarships to fill. Did I make the right choices? Do I have a good balance? No idea. I’ll find that out.

I like this, and look forward to seeing how this impacts my roster over the course of the season. I have one request, though: have the amount of scholarships needed to be filled available on the screen. It would be helpful to have that info there.

The recruiting portion of the game has also gotten…not quite an overhaul, but there are some differences. They reflect the current aspect of recruiting in the world of information, where you know who’s in on what player, what visits players have taken, and so on. This has been added in DDSCB, which should help inform you on where you stand with a particular player as you get deeper into the process.

You can see that Lavar Hyde has visited four schools, and that we’re a bit below a couple of other schools. It’s really early, of course, but it’s nice that it’s there.

However, I still have a big bone to pick with this. This is progress in recruiting information; we should know who is going where, who is looking at who, etc. But we live in a world of information. We have the “NXT 150”, which provides rankings…but provides no basis for those rankings. Why don’t we have their scouting reports?

I would love to see recruiting get a bigger overhaul. I want to see a full senior season worth of statistics: shooting percentages, turnover rates, offensive boards, shots taken…you get the hint. I also want to see scouting ratings from the start, perhaps based off of the NXT service, or some other static service. It makes sense, because we have 830948390483 scouting services out there…I can look up the scouting reports of just about any high school senior out there. Juniors, too (and some sophomores).

I know, for some, this may feel like a regression back to when we purchased scouting services. I don’t see it that way. The next progression is where you make coaches and hiring coaches more nuanced. Do you want to run a program through a big man? Find a coach that is good at coaching up big men. Do you want a coach that is good at teaching the motion? Find a coach that specializes in that offense, or works well with guards.

Then, have a static service…but how accurate you can get depends on two things: 1) How much you put into scouting a specific player, and 2) How good your coaches are at scouting. Right now, I think coaches are pointless. I’m sure they serve a purpose, but I still can’t find a tangible reason for giving them much of a reason to pay any attention to them, other than the only point is to get the one with the most good ratings.

So, there are two issues at play here: 1) There is a disconnect between coaches and roster-building, and 2) We *still* don’t have basic reports. This would serve both. I know you get more reports as you go to camps and stuff, but it’s a severe logic disconnect to think you’re a college basketball coach in this age, and that you know NOTHING about the skills of some players. This is even more true if you’re a coach at a school with higher prestige. No way in hell does any coach in the Big East not have basic access to a scouting report of every player in the country.

The crux of my argument: I’m the coach at Providence, and I don’t have access to a three-star recruit from Bristol, RI. Make that make sense to me.

Recruiting is fun, but this stuff frustrates the heck out of me, because it disconnects me from the universe. Of course, I’d also want to be able to start scouting juniors, too (Gary is well aware of this). I would settle for having a better foundation to start recruiting, but one that forces you to utilize other areas of the game (coaches on your staff) to be effective.

One of the other areas that has had changes made to it is the transfer portal. According to the website, there is player talent dispersal, and players “make better decisions on where to transfer in order to meet the items they are looking for”. This is fine, except…you are still left in the dark of the items they are looking for. So, to the user, nothing visually has changed.

Leon Jefferson is atop this list. Keep note of that.

I’d like to see one of the following:

1) Have a basic scouting report on all players already (again, we live in an age of information…you mean to tell me that a kid who went to Pitt is someone my Providence coaching staff doesn’t already have basic information on? It’s a logic disconnect.), OR

2) Have the first round by strictly scouting and contact ONLY. No signings until Round 2, OR

3) Have in-season reports on potential transfers across the board, which would come out of your recruiting budget. On the roster bio page, you could add some kind of transfer potential meter, so you have an idea of who you may lose, but also who you may be able to replace them with if you do lose them. 

To have transfers kind of dumped on you (both in who leaves, and then the suddenness of who you go after, while trying to scout them) disconnects me from the game. I get it if that’s the point, but I don’t understand why it would be. It disrupts the roster-building concept, because I’m forced to try to learn about someone I might not have even have a chance of getting unless I blindly hand out a scholarship. Sure, stats are present, but that doesn’t tell the entire story. What if the player doesn’t work for my offense? What if he’s disruptive?

If we’re playing a game where the key is to make informed decisions, then we should have the information necessary to make those informed decisions before we need to make those decisions…not while we make them.

One other thing that is absolutely necessary: A report from round to round. I scouted/contacted everyone who was Top 5 in the above screenshot in Round 1. Here is what Round 2 looks like:

I can’t even tell who isn’t available anymore, because the email of the transfer list has no rhyme or reason to it.

So not only do I not know why I had a sizable list of players who had PVD in the Top 5 shrink to just one from the first round to the second, but I have an unsorted mess of a list of who actually did transfer. I’m guessing the reason my list shrank is because I didn’t blindly offer scholarships to players without scouting reports, which is incredibly self-defeating.

I’ll be honest: I hate this. It’s an area I would completely skip if I didn’t have to replace, you know, 20-25% of my roster. This isn’t a game-killer (this existed last year, and I blindly threw out scholarships), but when I bring up the information disconnect and how it negatively impacts the user, this is what I mean.

Even if these are players I’ve recruited in the past, I don’t have access to their scouting reports unless my team plays theirs during the season. Make that make sense to me.

This needs to change next version. It’s not a hope to me; it’s a need.

Grade: 8.5 Again, the in-game coaching experience is fantastic. That’s a 10. Recruiting is still good, though I’ve said, for multiple versions now, that the concept of incomplete information no longer makes sense. If Gary wants to properly simulate a real-world experience, this needs to have been addressed by now. There is no bigger example of this than the transfer portal, which just no longer makes sense to me, from design to implementation. It detracts from the experience, and one that NEEDS a long look at for the next version.

Online Modes / Multiplayer

The game has the ability for multiplayer. Normally, I leave it at that.

However, since I have the Commissioner of CBGM, GM Games head Chris Valius, at my disposal…why not pick his brain on this? He uses the game to run a large online league, one I was once apart of (unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep up with the schedule, because it is a really fun league).

While talking with Chris a couple of weeks ago that I might ping him for a take in this section, he said, “the term multi or online means different things to different people.”


CV: In the world of online gaming, we see different styles of multi player, such as mmo rpg online role-playing video game in which a very large number of people participate simultaneously. This also requires the internet and a host server maintained by the company itself. 

Then there is the idea that you could patch in and play just one or two of your friends. While possible, the onus is on one person to know the in’s and out’s of networking and get an FTP server configured with proper directories. Real-time is not available for this type of multi player online in DDSCB23 and functions through file import/export method.

While possible to play and pickup against your friends, you need someone to take charge and build a server, import your friends files, advance the days. While this may be laborious for a couple of average gamers, it does work effectively for large online leagues for those with the patience to wait.

Me: What does DDSCB do well, when it comes to multiplayer?

CV: What DDSCB does well in multi player, is that with the right hosting , the dedication of the commissioner, you can have an exciting experience that can host a human for almost every college basketball team. The CBGM is the featured WS league and has the most participants and history in this regard.

Me: How difficult was it for you to create CBGM?

CV: Crafting the CBGM was more difficult as it was created to replicate the real life of the NCAA. Media based website, real teams, some exported stats for people to follow, but the main difficulty is that is does require daily advancing from the commish perspective, but is quite passive on the user end after key moments pass by, such as recruitment, transfers, or coach hiring. 

Me: How is managing CBGM now?

CV: Since CBGM is based on using the game for most of the key transactions, it makes life easier for the commissioner as there are no trades to monitor in terms of their compliance. There are several steps to get the hang of the website reports and finding out who has submitted during the mandatory days (self reconciliation of the ftp server that is not provided by the game, knowing the team ID’s numbers from a referencing file to know who submitted or not), this kind of maintenance does add to the labor where-as DDSPF provides a last updated report, with if the file has been uploaded etc.

Me: What could DDSCB do better with this mode?

CV: The easier it gets for commissioners right now, the easier it’ll get for 1 or 2 people to compete with their friends. It is still very technical but the more utilities for the commissioner to monitor the activity of others of what’s happening on the server, would begin to simplify the task of being a host. Besides the learning to FTP network part of things.

Grade: 9. Normally, this is a pass/fail for me. Does it work as intended? This answer is more of a “Yes…but.” The technicals are here, but I’m going to ding a point in this case for not having upload reports akin to DDSPF/CF. I was used to this with OOTP and their myriad reports and mods. Gary did not make his games with an online league focus when he began making his games, and this is one way that shows. Overall, setting up a college hoops league as an online league is hard, and DDSCB handles it well enough. But in order to run a league of such a size, the commissioner should have as many tools as necessary to make handling the day-to-day particulars as easy as possible. Not having these tools available for league accountability is something that I hope shows up in a patch, rather than a new version.

Fun Factor

I have had a ridiculous amount of fun in my 25 years of playing in this community. Of course, there are some memories that stick out. I once created an online league, back in 2003, in OOTP 4 and 5 that played out 100+ years before we took up our teams. The sixteen owners who started on the ground floor created players that showed up over the history. That league, the American Baseball League, was crazy fun.

I know I’ve written this before, but these reviews are digestible, so to think anyone remembers anything I say here is absurd…but with FBCB and FBPB, I wrote a 1000+ page story chronicling the college and pro career of one player whose ratings were totally maxed out. I took Derby County to the pinnacle of the football world, and took Penn State to a national championship in Gridiron Glory using Bowl Bound College Football, and ran my first podcast, back in 2005.

I write all of that to say this:

DDSCB is the game that brings me the most consistent fun, version-to-version, of simply running a program. It is in the within the spectrum of features and challenges that keep things fresh, but not overwhelming, or totally static or stale in repetitiveness.

Most games in this genre tend to hold a specific purpose for me. For OOTP, it’s playing to create a history. I can get bogged down by the micromanaging, and that can get in the way of my enjoyment (yes, I know, there’s an option for that). When it comes to FBCB/FBPB, it’s solely playing out a season to see what happened. This is especially true of FBCB; I love it, perhaps more than any other game, for playing out a quick season or ten, just to see the trends and see programs rise and fall.

However, for letting myself get immersed in the minutiae of a universe, while making the decisions that impact my chosen program, there is no better choice for me than DDSCB. My issues with recruiting and transfers aside, I am able to make a deeper personal connection with this series than with any other management franchise.

Are there things that can be improved here? Of course. In addition to what I wrote about recruiting and transfers, I really hope that the press conference feature that debuted in DDSPB this year not only finds its way into DDSCB, but replaces the texting model that currently exists. I think the path towards building more immersion in this franchise is by building stronger, more dynamic relationship models. I think the press conference model can be expanded to interpersonal relationships, where coaches can talk with players about recent performances, relationship issues, playing time, role on the team, etc. You can also create more dynamic relationships with coaches, either through strict press conferences (commenting on teams after games, or perhaps being asked questions about other teams in your conference, etc), or through a more dynamic scheduling model.

I have laid all of this out to Gary privately, and will continue to champion for this to find its way in the game. I do think the one area that has become stale is with roster management in-season, especially when two players butt heads. That hasn’t changed for several versions now, and I think it sticks out in a negative way now.

As always, my suggestion for having “real-time” simming would be lovely. That’s where you sim the day but hide the scores, so you can go back and replay the games, and have the ability to jump in and out of games as you wish. This was in FOF several versions ago, and was a lot of fun. This would be awesome during conference tourney week, or while looking at bubble games…even just having a real-time sim screen, like OOTP, would be great. Since all of the information is already stored, I think this is feasible. (I know, when Gary and I talked about this before, he indicated that it wasn’t doable because he couldn’t have games start at different times. That’s totally fine. I do think this is something a lot of players would use, though.)

I have also made a case for a tournament pick’em, which can get your coaching staff points, or maybe even some late-season recruiting bumps, akin to the Daily Fantasy in DDSPB, as well as allowing the user to have a vote in the weekly Coaches Poll. Additionally, I suggested that users who go to see a recruit play gain access to a conversation with that recruit’s HS head coach, which can shed more light on the player.

I know I’m not alone in making suggestions for this franchise; DDSCB has a very dedicated community that continuously works to raise this game with every version. It helps that Gary Gorski is one of the most receptive and responsive developers in this branch of the gaming tree.

Grade: 9. If you like college hoops, this game needs to be in your library. I do think the disconnect with incomplete information, with regards to recruiting, and most definitely with transfers, can be enough of one to inhibit your total immersion in this version…but I could also be in the minority here.

The Final Word: If you want a solid college basketball experience, you can do a lot worse than DDSCB. You’ll also be hard-pressed to do much better. It isn’t perfect, and some things I consider flaws are becoming more glaring with each passing version, but I enjoy the coaching, and the connections I get to make with each individual team I coach. That still does it for me. I think it will for you, too.

Official Download for Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 2023

Leave a comment for John or GM Games on reddit…



  • The in-game coaching experience is fantastic.
  • The scoreboard in the middle of 2D is a REALLY nice touch.
  • Creates a real-world environment, while offering enough variations.


  • We have the “NXT 150”, which provides rankings…but provides no basis for those rankings. Why don’t we have their scouting reports?
  • For transfers, you are still left in the dark of the items they are looking for.
  • The email of the transfer list has no rhyme or reason to it.


Gameplay and Sim Engine: 8.5 / 10
Customization: 10 / 10
Replay Fun Factor: 10 / 10
Online Modes: 9 / 10
Graphics and User Interface: 9 / 10
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John Comey has been in the sim gaming community for over twenty years, and has justified his bachelors in journalism by writing thousands of pages of material, ranging from articles and reviews to online leagues. He has been the creator of several failed blogs, as well as a LiveJournal or two...not that there's anything wrong with that. He is also the author of the worst technical manual in gaming history (Total Pro Football), and has been an intermittent podcaster since 2005. He has collaborated and contributed to products with Wolverine Studios, Grey Dog Software, and Out of the Park Developments. A native of Harrisburg, PA, Comey has been a New Englander since 2007. He currently resides in the Providence area with his girlfriend and two kitties (Ello and Chidi), where he teaches middle school Social Studies and coaches basketball, soccer and baseball. He also continues to play competitive basketball and baseball, and loves live music and comedy.