Bronny James Is Coming Into His Own At USC As His Future Remains Up In The Air

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Bronny James

LeBron James’ son Bronny rebounded from serious health problems to be able to play basketball at the University of Southern California. His father hopes he will soon join him in the NBA and play alongside him.

The scene has become a habit—almost a routine—at the Galen Center at USC, which revels in it every time the Trojans play at home: Bronny James puts on his jersey, warms up, and is greeted by his father, who is seated on the edge of the floor preparing for the game that’s about to begin.

LeBron James warms up in his own way too. After the stirring national anthem plays, the legend smiles for all to see. The NBA superstar is starting to get to know everyone here. He even checks on the staff, his son’s teammates, and, now, a few young regulars, some of whom have donned the crimson red and gold jersey, flocked with the number 6 and the famous “James Jr.”

An hour earlier, we bumped into Bronny in the corridors. He’s almost a pro already. Attentive to those who come to see him—the many scouts and journalists pass through the same front door—he’s serene in the warm-up, meticulous in his preparation. “He’s a hard worker and a good student at this level,” says one of the onlookers who come to watch all the games.

That day, against Stanford University, Bronny didn’t play a great game, scoring just two points. However, his team won, and above all, he was in good health.

A health scare at the age of 18

Six months earlier, after arriving at USC last summer, Bronny suffered a cardiac arrest in training that caused more concern for his life than for his basketball career. The 19-year-old suffers from a malformation and surgery was mandatory. “Things are moving in the right direction,” his father said before the medical experts gave the teenager permission to return to basketball.

At the beginning of January, in the heart of Los Angeles, on this impeccable campus, we could discover a smiling, pleasant young man; a much-appreciated teammate and a handsome, well-built player. He’s not as tall as his dad, but his genes have shaped him for basketball.

Strong legs, a muscular neck, a look like few others. Bronny is his father’s son. He’s also one of the most stylish players around, wearing Nike and a pair of LeBron shoes. But the big question is: Will he ever play in the NBA?

Does he have the potential? Bronny isn’t playing at the best university in the country, his health problems have slowed him down, and there are plenty of skeptics. But the soap opera is back, and LeBron himself is turning up the heat.

Is the hype surrounding LeBron James’ son Bronny justified?

Before this game against Stanford, LeBron said, “He can play for us at the Lakers today. Easy!” He has never hidden the fact that playing with his eldest son represents one of his last dreams (Bryce, his second son and a promising player, is only 16).

“I have to be on the court with my boy,” said The King. I asked him what he wanted to do, and he told me he’d like him to join him in the NBA. “It’s up to him to work. I’m here waiting for him. It will take a combination of circumstances and, above all, Bronny being strong enough.”

“He’s still improving. He took some tough shots today, which is OK,” says his coach Andy Enfield. “He’s an important player for the team. He’s a very intelligent basketball player, he plays hard in all positions. He can force fast guys and big men to play defense.” Bronny highlights his top asset in a rare exchange with the press, saying, “I’d like forwards to be afraid to play against the defender I am.”

This has experts saying that his future in the league (if it exists at all) will be more as a roleplayer than a superstar. In the meantime, the process takes its course; Bronny has to decide whether he’ll stay on for another year or whether he’ll enter the draft this summer.

Among NBA insiders, we understand that several teams could be tempted to select him. “Some are hoping to attract his father,” adds an American colleague. LeBron, who could be free of any contract soon, could thus consider joining the team that drafts his son, unless the Lakers take it upon themselves to bring them together.

This connection seems both fortunate and unfortunate for Bronny: not being a college star but imagining a future at the highest level by attracting the attention of scouts and having to endure the pressure that goes with it.

“He’s growing up and getting more comfortable,” says teammate Kobe Johnson. “He handles frustration well when things don’t go his way. He’s not selfish for a media guy like him and doesn’t take it all personally when things don’t go his way on the court.”

Kobe and another player, Boogie Ellis, took the spotlight this afternoon against Stanford. In the stands, it’s stressed that they are the team’s #1 scoring options. But on the way out, the kids have nothing but praise for LeBron’s son.

This post is originally from L’Équipe