Bronny James will stay in the NBA draft. Is a pairing with LeBron James next?

Bronny James, University of Southern California guard and eldest 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 the league.

James, 19, 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 STAY IN PROJECT. »

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

With a name like LeBron Raymone James Jr., Bronny was always going to face high expectations. And his basketball skills have been featured in viral videos since he was in elementary school. “He’s already had college offers,” LeBron James confirmed, without naming names, in 2015. “It’s pretty crazy. It should be a violation. You shouldn’t be recruiting 10-year-olds.

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

“I have to be on the floor with my boy. I have to be on the floor with Bronny,” James, now 39, told ESPN in January. “Either in the same uniform or in a matchup against him… But I would love to do the whole Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. thing. That would be ideal, for sure.” … “(He) says he wants to play in the NBA so, if he wants to get there, he has to work. I’m already here so I’m waiting for him.

The fairy tale had a winding path

But even though Bronny was a prodigy, he wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime prospect like his father. Unlike LeBron, he was headed to college and arrived at USC last summer after performing well at the McDonald’s All-American Game and the Nike Hoop Summit. However, he suffered a cardiac arrest during training in July. The following month, James’ family announced that he suffered from “an anatomically and functionally significant congenital heart defect that can and will be treated.”

Bronny was eventually cleared to return to 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, he was medically cleared to enter the draft, sources told ESPN, by the NBA’s Fitness to Play Panel. His decision to turn professional means the start of training with potential teams ahead of the June 26-27 draft.

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

As predestined as James’ joining forces may seem, it is far from a lock. Bronny still needs to be drafted or sign with any team as a free agent if he isn’t drafted. 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 choose whether or not to participate in 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 have fueled speculation that the two could land on the same team. But LeBron sought to calm the buzz as his oft-expressed hope grew closer to reality.

“I haven’t thought about it much lately. Obviously, I’ve 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 gets to do what he wants, and I don’t even want to say ‘kid’ anymore. The young man will decide what he wants to do and the direction he wants to take his career. I just think the fact that we’re even having this conversation is pretty cool.

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