There was no list. There were no interviews. And his father, LeBron James, never hinted anything about his son’s plans. As Bronny James considered his future, there was only silence. For years. Perhaps the most viral and recognizable college basketball recruit since his father picked the NBA over college in 2003, Bronny finally made an announcement on Saturday: He will play for Andy Enfield at USC. The decision allows Bronny to play near his Lakers star father and stay home in Los Angeles.
It also places him with a head coach who has produced three first-round NBA draft picks since 2018. Now, Bronny will become one of the most scrutinized recruits of all time as he pursues a one-and-done path and aims to join his father in the pros.
Before that, though, he has a season in college basketball. Our experts Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway, Joe Lunardi and Myron Medcalf discuss the significance and impact of this decision.
How do James and USC fit with each other?
After some offseason roster movement in the Trojans’ program, James is walking into a situation in which he’s likely to start immediately on the perimeter. Andy Enfield’s program was already bringing in the No. 1-ranked recruit in the country — elite point guard Isaiah Collier — and is expected to return Boogie Ellis, the team’s leading scorer and an All-Pac-12 guard. Collier and Ellis will have the ball in their hands and will take the most shots for the Trojans, which will allow James to be a complementary player and not shoulder too much of the offensive load. His ability to knock down open shots from the perimeter, make plays in transition and defend multiple positions at the other end of the floor will be a major boost for USC. — Jeff Borzello
How does James’ addition affect USC’s tournament prospects?
USC was already a solid NCAA tournament team heading into the 2023-24 season, no worse than third in the Pac-12 pecking order and a likely single-digit seed. With James in the fold, the Trojans have cemented that status and can now think seriously about their prospects as a second-weekend contender. USC was in the Elite Eight as recently as 2021 but is generally not considered a Sweet 16-level program.
James doesn’t change that calculus by himself, but adding his versatility to an already talented roster means USC will start next season as a Top 20 team with a considerable buzz. Sometimes being anointed in the preseason has a carryover effect, and the Trojans will now have to play their way out of the NCAA bracket instead of the other way around. USC is now a major Bracketology story. — Joe Lunardi
How strategic was this decision for James?
Well, he is already a businessman. He has commercials with major brands, such as Beats by Dre, and competing in L.A. will help him expand his name, image and likeness value. His location, his father and his overall popularity should make him the wealthiest athlete of the NIL era. By far. He has 7 million followers on social media, and he’s done only one interview in his career.
But the USC move also makes sense on the court. It keeps James near his father, who has been his most important coach to date. The familiarity will help his transition, too. Plus, if he can play next to Ellis and Collier, he’ll have the biggest spotlight off the court without enduring all of the pressure on the court.
This seems like a smart move for Bronny’s athletic and entrepreneurial future and his goal to compete at the next level. — Myron Medcalf
What adjustments, if any, will James have to make in college?
James arrives at USC billed as a skilled combo guard who hits his shots and brings effort and toughness on defense. On the court, his main adjustment will be the same one facing all first-year players: He will have to keep displaying the same skills that have brought him this far, only now he’ll be doing so against opponents who are older and more skilled than what he’s seen before.
Off the court, of course, the adjustment will be just as challenging. James is now entering a bigger stage. He’s in a good position, in the sense that he won’t be asked to step in and be the Trojans’ leading scorer. On the other hand, his highlights and stats will be scrutinized in an entirely new way.
The good news for James is that if he’s accustomed to anything, it’s being scrutinized. This is one adjustment he’s been preparing for since he first stepped onto the court. — John Gasaway
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