Is there a way to take a dozen or so images and wrap them around a rotating sphere in after effects? I would also need to break the sphere apart (by image) and then bring it back together again. I thought I saw a tutorial on how to do this somewhere, but can't seem to find it.
CC sphere can do a textured sphere, otherwise you'll have to arrange the layers in 3D space to mimic a sphere. You could use some of the expressions in here to set it up (on the "Blob Center" helper layers):
I'm sure there is some tutorial out there, but I don't have a link to a specific one.