NCAA College Basketball 2K3 is a solid basketball game with plenty of modes to choose from, but it ultimately falls short of being an accurate simulation of college basketball.
Though they're ostensibly the same sport, college and professional basketball can be quite different from each other. From the variety of zone defenses to the generally more mechanical (and practical) movement of the ball on offense, college basketball tends to be a little slower and more methodical than the professional version of the sport, emphasizing fundamentals over flash. Sega's NCAA College Basketball 2K3 admirably attempts to mimic college basketball, and in some cases, it's successful in doing so. But the game still has a few rough spots on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball that would make any fan of the sport throw his or her controller in frustration.
If there's one area where NCAA College Basketball 2K3 shows absolutely no sign of weakness, it's in the number and depth of the playable modes that are available. The game features the usual season and exhibition options, in which you can play through an entire season of college basketball or just one game, respectively, but it also features a great custom tournament mode in which you can create a tournament for any of the 30 conferences or all of the NCAA, a practice mode to help you become familiar with the fundamentals, a gym rat option that is comparable to the street ball mode in NBA 2K3, and a legacy mode. The PlayStation 2 version also has support for online play, which is set up similarly to NBA 2K3's online component in that it makes use of a lobby system that displays wins, losses, and how many times a player has dropped from a game. There was some pretty bad lag in a quite few of the online games we played, but as the games progressed it seemed to become less of a problem.
Though most college basketball fans will initially be content with the tournament mode, the legacy mode is what will bring them back to the game long after it's been purchased. There are two different types of approaches in the legacy mode, open and career. With the open option, every team has an open coaching spot right off the bat, so any one of them is immediately selectable. However, in the career option, most of the teams are locked and you'll be forced to select at one of the lower-tier basketball programs and meet a certain requirement to consider your season successful. If you meet that goal (which can be something as simple as winning half the games that season), then you might get job offers from other schools. If you don't, you'll have to stick it out with the same school for another season. It can be an incredibly fun mode to play through, and one that would've provided substantial motivation for continually playing through the legacy mode, but much of that is taken away by the fact that you can just go ahead and select any team in the open option.
In any case, at the end of a season in legacy mode, a number of players will either graduate or move on to the NBA, so those holes in your lineup have to be filled by recruiting high school players. When the recruiting screen opens up, you'll see a list of players and their overall rating, their position, and the top three schools they're interested in. You can attempt to recruit any one of these players by spending recruiting points and having either the head coach or the assistant coach give that particular player a call to find out more about his abilities and the type of school he wants to attend. If he does show signs of interest, you can follow up the phone call with an actual visit by the coach so his interest remains intact. There's quite a few things to pay attention to in the recruiting process, but one of the keys is to at least go after a player who is already somewhat interested in playing for your school.