My son decided last year that he wanted to play basketball. Now, in my youth I was pretty athletic, but I have to confess, this is one sport I never played and really don't know all that much about.
But I signed him up and after the games started soon learned that he really needed his own ball and a net to practice with at home. Now bare in mind I have already gotten him new shoes that TIE so they stay on better (a good idea since he ran out of his others at the first practice), the "right" socks and shorts. So, I was not real excited about another purchase. He of course wanted the $30 ball he saw at a sports store. Well, I really did not see the need for that. Lucky for me, we found a perfectly good basketball at Dollar General for $5!
Now, my son is 8 so this might not work with an older boy who knows the brands. But, for us it was the perfect solution. The ball is now about 6 months old and looks the same. It bounces the same, and plays just fine.