Bronny James, the University of Southern California guard and elder son of LeBron James, will remain in next month’s NBA draft rather than withdraw before Wednesday night’s deadline to retain his college eligibility, a decision that has ramifications for his family and for the league.

The 19-year-old James initially declared for the draft and entered the NCAA transfer portal in early April, keeping his options open during the pre-draft process. LeBron James announced his son’s decision Wednesday morning on an Instagram story: “BRONNY STAYING IN DRAFT.”

NBA Combine Bronny James Basketball

LeBron James, left, poses with his son Bronny after Sierra Canyon defeated Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in a high school basketball game Dec. 14, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. AP file photo

Here’s what to know about Bronny, whose decision raises the possibility he will join his father in the NBA next season.

No stranger to hype

With a name like LeBron Raymone James Jr., Bronny was always going to face high expectations. And his basketball talents have been showcased in viral videos since he was in elementary school. “He’s already got some offers from colleges,” LeBron James confirmed, without naming names, back in 2015. “It’s pretty crazy. It should be a violation. You shouldn’t be recruiting 10-year-old kids.”

But LeBron James has long discussed the prospect of joining the NHL’s Howes or MLB’s Griffeys as part of a father-son duo.


“I need to be on the floor with my boy. I got to be on the floor with Bronny,” James, now 39, told ESPN in January. “Either in the same uniform or a matchup against him … But I would love to do the whole Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. thing. That would be ideal, for sure. … “[H]e says he wants to play in the NBA so, if he wants to do it, he’s got to put in the work. I’m here already so I’m just waiting on him.”

The fairy tale has had a winding road

But while Bronny was a prodigy, he wasn’t a once-in-a-generation prospect like his father. Unlike LeBron, he headed to college, arriving at USC last summer after performing well in the McDonald’s all-American Game and Nike Hoop Summit. However, he experienced cardiac arrest during a practice in July. The following month, the James family announced he had “an anatomically and functionally significant congenital heart defect which can and will be treated.”

Bronny was eventually cleared to return to the court and made his college debut in mid-December. He averaged 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 19.4 minutes for the 15-18 Trojans, who finished near the bottom of the Pac-12. Just before this month’s draft combine, he was medically cleared for the draft, sources told ESPN, by the NBA’s Fitness to Play Panel. His decision to go pro means the beginning of workouts with prospective teams ahead of the June 26-27 draft.

Bronny’s star has been rising recently, with his draft prospects improved by a strong performance during pre-draft workouts. Although rated 54th among ESPN’s top 100, he impressed scouts at the draft combine. He ranked second among 71 prospects in two three-point shooting drills and had 13 points in a team scrimmage. He continued to perform impressively during a pro day at the Los Angeles Lakers’ practice facility last week, showing explosiveness and accurate perimeter shooting.

No guarantees, though

As preordained as the Jameses joining forces may seem, it is far from a lock. Bronny still must be drafted, or sign with any team as a free agent if he is not selected. Conveniently, his father signed a contract extension with the Lakers in 2022 that allows him to opt out to become a free agent this summer. LeBron has until June 29, two days after the end of the draft, to either opt into or out of another year with the Lakers.

LeBron’s ability to control his future and Bronny’s decision to enter the draft despite an uninspiring freshman season at USC has fueled speculation that the two might land on the same team. But LeBron sought to tamp down the buzz as his often-expressed hope grew closer to reality.

“I haven’t given it much thought lately. Obviously, I thought about it in the past,” he told reporters when the Lakers’ season ended in the first round of the playoffs last month. “At the end of the day, the kid has to do what he wants to do, and I don’t even want to say ‘kid’ anymore. The young man will decide what he wants to do and how he wants his career to go. I just think the fact that we’re even having the conversation is pretty cool.”

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