It's not Sports Illustrated, but you can make photos at a college basketball game. The world being what it is, spectators have to pass through scanners and put all their belongings in a plastic bag just to get into a game, so you can't go in with a camera bag and lenses. In fact, you can't go in with anything that even looks like a telephoto lens. So you're stuck with either a prime lens or a sneaky small collapsible short telephoto. If you're at court level, a prime lens is fine. From the stands, you'll need an 85 mm or something longer, if you can get in with it. Cropping is inevitable, but at least there's enough light in a college arena for a fast shutter speed.
Gear Photos were made with a Nikon D70s and a 55-200 mm, a Nikon D700 and a 50 mm f/1.8, and a Nikon D750 and an 85 mm f/2.0.