How Bronny James will fit in at USC next season
USC head coach Andy Enfield and staff landed the biggest name in high school basketball over the weekend when Bronny James announced he would be staying close to home and joining the Trojans next season. The oldest son of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James chose USC over Ohio State and Oregon and never commented on his recruitment once during his high school career.
LeBron was a proud father Saturday night, telling reporters after the Lakers' Game 3 win over the Golden State Warriors, "USC is getting a great kid. He's there to play basketball, but they're going to be super surprised by how great of a kid he is, even though they've been recruiting him for quite awhile."
Bronny, a 6-foot-2 combo guard, is joining the top guard in the 2023 class, Isaiah Collier and four-star forward Arrinten Page. The coaching staff and USC fans got a glimpse of how well James and Collier will play together in the backcourt when the duo were teammates for two weeks during the McDonald's All-American Game and Nike Hoop Summit.
“It's been great playing with him,” Collier told Yahoo Sports after practice at Nike Hoop Summit. “Just these last couple of weeks and getting to know each other as players. He's a great shooter. I'm a great passer, and we can really play well together.”
The pieces started to fall into place and the anticipation of James joining USC began early in April when two guards from USC entered the transfer portal, making room on the roster for James to join the team. Sophomore guard Reese Dixon-Waters transferred to San Diego State, while freshman Tre White left USC and announced his commitment to Louisville on Saturday, a few hours after James committed to USC.
Senior point guard Boogie Ellis is returning for his fifth year and was quick to welcome James to the team, tagging him and Collier in his Instagram story immediately following James' announcement. Ellis played alongside LeBron last summer in the Drew League and will now be teaming up with his son in the backcourt next season. Ellis was named to the All-Pac-12 first team this past season and averaged 17.7 points and 3.1 assists per game.
There's a sense Enfield will go with a smaller lineup in the backcourt with 6-foot-2 Ellis running point and 6-3 Collier playing the 2 and James at the 3. Rounding out the projected starting five: one of the best defenders in the Pac-12, Kobe Johnson, and 6-11 Joshua Morgan, who led the Pac-12 in blocks last season.
There is speculation the Trojans are not finished with their 2023 recruiting class and rumors started swirling over the weekend that current Kentucky commit, five-star Aaron Bradshaw, could be headed to USC if Oscar Tshiebwe returns for his fifth year and doesn't stay in this year's NBA Draft.
Bradshaw, a 7-1 center, is one of the top players in his class and an early projected first-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. Both Bradshaw and James are represented by LeBron's agency, Klutch Sports, for NIL representation and Klutch's headquarters are located in Los Angeles. Bradshaw, for his part, posted himself in a Kentucky jersey over the weekend in response to the USC rumors, but hasn't commented publicly about the possibility of leaving Kentucky.
This might be the most talented team under Enfield since he arrived at USC and will be one of the hottest tickets in town with the star power not only on the court, but also on the sidelines when LeBron can make it to games. Since Enfield arrived in 2013, USC has won at least 21 games in seven out of the last eight seasons and advanced to the NCAA tournament five times, including an Elite Eight run in 2021.
Bronny might be at USC for only one season with many anticipating he'll be a one-and-done player and enter the 2024 NBA Draft. LeBron has a player option with the Lakers that summer. In fewer than two years, LeBron and Bronny could make history as the first father-son duo to play together in NBA.
"I was serious, and I'm still serious about it," LeBron said Saturday. "My son is going to take his journey. And whatever his journey, however his journey lays out, he's going to do what's best for him. So, just because that's my aspiration or my goal [playing in the NBA together], doesn't mean it's his. And I'm absolutely OK with that."
Bronny might not be the typical one-and-done prospect with his size and the numbers he put up during his high school career, but he plays the right way, is an excellent 3-point shooter, a great defender and someone NBA scouts will be watching closely next season at USC.