Sure. Make sure the wireframe - latitude and longitude lines - is a rectangular shape in the form of a Mercator projection. Put the texture behind it, in a same size rectangle. Select both the texture and the wirefrme and make them a new Symbol. Use the 3D Effect to revolve a half-circle into a sphere, and map the symbol onto its surface.
I cannot grok what you are suggesting...how do I even get started? I can draw a circle and do a black and white radial swatch. I don't understand
"Make sure the wireframe - latitude and longitude lines - is a rectangular shape in the form of a Mercator projection. Put the texture behind it, in a same size rectangle. Select both the texture and the wirefrme and make them a new Symbol. Use the 3D Effect to revolve a half-circle into a sphere, and map the symbol onto its surface"
Download the .zip archive. Decompress it. In the resulting folder you'll find the script. Drag it into Illustrator's Presents/Scripts folder. Then launch Illustrator. The script will appear in the File>Scripts menu.
When you select the script, you will receive three prompts, asking you for:
The desired number of latitude lines.
The desired number of longitude lines.
The desired degree of axis tilt.
The script then draws a 1" diameter wireframe sphere at the center of the page. You can then scale it and style it as desired.
Try this instead. Create your texture with a rectangular area then use the grid tool to make a grid the same size of the as the textured rectangle and and make that art work a symbol. Then create a sphere with a half circle using the 3D effect. and than while still in the 3D effect dialog choose map art and map the textured grid symbol to it.
Assuming you are using AICS or CS2, the 3D Effect with Symbol mapping as Gary suggested is fine. I sometimes use both; using the 3D image mapping for the sphere surface, but overlaying it with the grid made by the script. (It so happened I was working on such a thing right when you posted this thread.) Reasons are: It's easy to do "stroke things" (Art Brushes, dashes, etc.) with the grid made by the script, because the paths are all simple ellipses with 4 points...:
...; whereas the 3D mapping route tapers the lat/long lines, and when expanded all the strokes are outlined, even if the Symbol contained simple strokes.
Also, the script results in ellipses spaced as if they were mechanically constructed in an axonometric projection (isometric, dimetric, trimetric), which makes them useful to me for other things, such as sperical "protractors".
For those using AI10, a version of the script without the prompts is here: