At the beginning of 2020, Chinese sportswear brand, 361° Degrees, made quite the resurgence back into the performance basketball market by signing NBA star, Aaron Gordon, of the Orlando Magic, to an endorsement deal. 361° has previously released basketball shoes endorsed by Jimmer Fredette of the CBA, and Kevin Love during his Minnesota Timberwolves. However, after signing Aaron Gordon, the brand is going in at full capacity by releasing several new performance basketball shoes to the market, which Gordon himself is, and has been wearing during the NBA Restart. Our Aaron Gordon x 361° Degrees ZEN.00 Performance Review showcases our thoughts on the brand’s latest basketball shoe release, following up with their previously released “BIG3” basketball shoe.
The ZEN.00 arrives with a full length Quik Foam midsole which is heavily caged by a TPU stabilizer plate laterally, and partial rubber wrap-up sections medially, which rides atop thick grooved wave bone outsole. The build features a fused ripstop upper, with a portion of the medial side utilizing ballistic mesh. An inner bootie system with a nylon cabled lacing enclosure that runs through to the midsole completes the shoe. Below is our performance review video on the ZEN.00 in both the “Killer Whale” and “Kung Fu Dunk” colorways. We had the opportunity to test both a Men’s (size 9.5) and Kid’s (size 6.5) version, since Alan wears a smaller size, and were able to compare and contrast the performance differences in the video.
I filmed the performance review video, so here are Alan’s thoughts after playing in and testing out his “Kung Fu Dunk” colorway of the ZEN.00:
- SUPERRRR durable. Literally as durable as the Air Jordan 1 outsole
- Excellent traction outdoors. No sliding around whatsoever. Stopped on a dime.
- Large herringbone grooves are a little close together and it’s a translucent outsole so I suspect it will attract dust indoors
- The rubber comes up on the sides of the midsole foam to try to cage and stabilize it
- Quick foam: very plush cushion. Even softer than boost. Very good impact protection
- However, because the foam was so soft and plush, I lost court feel and reaction time
- There’s a huge chunk of foam in the heel, which feels nice walking around but affected the stability and playstyle of my shoe
- Mixture of vinyl, fuse, mesh, and ripstop material
- Shoelaces are kind of cheap, but they are easily replaceable
- Even though this shoe uses synthetic plastics, the shoe was very flexible albeit a bit hot
- I wear a 6.5 and I had less than a thumb’s worth of space between my toe and the end of the shoe
- Material was snug and wrapped around my foot
- There’s a little bit of padding in the heel which keeps your ankle nice and snug
- I feel that if the shoe’s upper was less plastic and more mesh, the fit would have been even better.
- I had the kid’s version because that was the only shoe that had my size
- There was no shank plate at all. The first thirty minutes, my feet had to get used to the flexibility of the shoe and it ached a bit. If I played for more than 3 hours, my arch muscles would’ve been stretched too much and I’d have to take a break. But then again, this is a kid’s shoe. The adult version had a very large supportive shank plate and a lateral TPU piece caging the forefoot foam.
- The outrigger, which is meant to keep you upright, is a nice addition.
- The heel foam was not caged enough. Will go over that next
- But the lack of the support features that came with the adult version affected my playstyle
- Overall playing experience
- Loved how plush the foam was, don’t get me wrong. I just wish the forefoot was lower to the ground because I could feel the foam compressing before my foot pushed off. This cushion is better for a big man rather than a small guard like me
- The lack of the lateral forefoot TPU piece that was supposed to cage my foam affected the stability and especially my shooting. Every time I was moving laterally, I could feel the lateral foam compressing too much and making me slightly unbalanced. Furthermore, the lack of a TPU arch plate gave no help in the torsional stability. Every time I tried to shoot the ball, I could feel both the lateral foam and the shoe itself squish and bend/rotate.
- The heel foam compressed too much for my liking. Good impact protection, but if you use your heel to brake and launch into an off the dribble jump shot, it feels slightly unstable because of the slow reaction time and lack of stability.
- None of these would be issues though if I had the adult version. Again, this is a KID’S shoe. Kids don’t exert as much force as adults would. Try your best to get the adult version.
- Big men who need support and cushion would love this shoe. But quick guards who rely on precise footwork should look at 361’s other offerings.
Both Alan and I had a lot of fun playing in the 361° Degrees ZEN.00. While I mentioned this quite a bit in the video, I’ll say it again, the shoe is designed for a player like Aaron Gordon, big, tall, explosive, and heavy on his feet. Both of us are quicker, lightweight guards who like to feel fast on our feet. So, while the ZEN.00 isn’t the most ideal set-up for us, as the cushioning was a bit laggy for us, it would be a great shoe for big men, which is the type of player who endorses the shoe: Aaron Gordon.
Overall, the ZEN.00 is a fantastic shoe, and got the job done in every single category. Traction was stellar, very durable, and zero slippage. Cushioning was fantastic, super plush, and lots of impact protection. The only downside for us about the cushion was how laggy it felt due to both of us being lightweight. The upper materials are more average than anything, but got the job done. Support is where this shoe really excels and is top-tier. From the nylon cabled lacing enclosure, to the midfoot torsional shank plate, and the supportive fused ripstop upper, the overall support of the shoe is FANTASTIC.
The Aaron Gordon x 361° Degrees ZEN.00 is available at HiBasketballShoes.com in select colorways and sizes. I’d highly recommend to grab a pair to try out for yourself if you are a bigger/larger player, as I believe you’d be impressed with just how beastly they perform. Let me know what you think of our performance review in the comments below.