Bronny James is entering his senior year of high school, coming off a great summer and European tour with his high school team, Sierra Canyon, last month. LeBron James’ oldest son has kept his recruitment under wraps his entire high school career, but a few schools are starting to emerge as viable options and official visits are being scheduled for the fall.
His first visit took place over the weekend as Bronny, LeBron and agent Rich Paul traveled to Columbus, Ohio, and were seen on the sideline ahead of the Ohio State-Notre Dame football game. Ohio State’s student section started chanting, “We want Bronny,” after spotting them.
Where else will Bronny potentially visit this fall and where will he end up playing next season? Yahoo Sports takes a look at the teams known to be in on James, how he would fit within the program and other high school recruits who could be joining him.
If there’s a preconceived favored program, Ohio State is it.
Bronny was born in Columbus, LeBron was born and raised in Akron, and has said in the past that if he didn’t play basketball, he would have been a wide receiver and played at Ohio State. The university is sponsored by LeBron’s Nike division, with athletes on the men’s and women’s basketball teams wearing LeBron-designed shoes and the football team outfitted in his designed cleats. LeBron has been to multiple sporting events at Ohio State over the years and it would be a bit of a homecoming if Bronny chose to play for Chris Holtmann and his staff.
The Buckeyes do a great job developing guards and have a handful of notable alumni currently in the NBA: D’Angelo Russell, Mike Conley Jr., Duane Washington Jr. and most recently, the No. 20 picks in the 2022 NBA draft, Malachi Branham. The Buckeyes finished last season 20-12 and fourth in the Big Ten.
Ohio State already has two commitments in the 2023 high school class: four-star power forward Devin Royal and center Austin Parks. There’s availability and room for Bronny to come in and compete for early playing time. He’s one of the best on-ball defenders in his class and has a solid jumper. He’s a plug-and-play guard who is getting more comfortable as the primary ball-handler.
There was a report from On3 Sports that named Oregon as the front-runner. LeBron quickly shut down that speculation stating in a tweet“He hasn’t taken 1 visit yet and has only had a few calls with coaches and universities. When Bronny makes his choice you’ll hear it from him.”
Oregon is the flagship school for the Nike brand and head coach Dana Altman has already landed top players in the 2023 high school class. Five-star Kwame Evans swear four-star Mookie Cook have already committed to the Ducks along with four-star guard Jackson Shelstad. Cook was actually cast to play a young LeBron in the feature film about his childhood and high school career coming out next year and filmed the movie this past summer.
“It’s kind of hard to play LeBron because he’s literally one of one,” Cook told Yahoo Sports. “Of course I watched a ton of movies and just the way he saw the game at that young age, man, he’s something else.”
Bronny teaming up with the player who played his father in a movie would be fun to watch on the court, but LeBron made it very clear they’re still early in the process and reports that Oregon is the early leader appear to be false.
Head coach Juwan Howard and LeBron have had a great relationship for years. Howard has made back-to-back trips to the Sweet 16 in his first two seasons as head coach and has turned around the program.
There are always a handful of things to consider when choosing a college program. Howard played in the NBA for 19 seasons and was an assistant coach when LeBron played for the Miami Heat and won two championships in South Florida. Trusting a coach and his staff to push Bronny every day at practice could give Michigan a slight edge.
The only thing that could hurt Michigan’s chances of landing Bronny is Michigan is a Jordan Brand-sponsored school. This might not seem like a big deal, but to put things in perspective, all of Bronny’s other potential college programs are sponsored by Nike. Bronny has played on Nike-sponsored teams his entire high school career. LeBron is one of Nike’s biggest athletes and the name, image and likeness opportunities that could surround Bronny will undoubtedly be considered.
The Wolverines don’t have a commitment from any player in the 2023 high school recruiting class yet but are in a good spot with five-star Isaiah Collier and four-star center Papa Kante. Bronny has played alongside top guards his entire high school career; he played with NBA guards Brandon Boston Jr. and Ziaire Williams, and played off the ball last year alongside UCLA freshman Amari Bailey.
Head coach Andy Enfield and two assistants sat courtside at each one of Bronny’s games at Nike’s Peach Jam in July. USC is the hometown school and it would be relatively easy for LeBron and the rest of the family to be at home games when schedules permit. Bronny’s little brother, Bryce, is only a sophomore and will be playing varsity this season with his older brother. Bryce is starting to come into his own game, listed at 6-foot-5 and Bronny would be only an hour away and could still be close to family.
USC finished last season 26-8 and third in the Pac-12. The Trojans don’t have a commitment for the 2023 high school class yet but are in a good spot with James, and five-star prospects AJ Johnson swear Isaiah Collier.
Penny Hardaway is the most recent head coach to get involved in Bronny’s recruitment. Similar to Howard and Michigan, Hardaway brings pro experience to the college level and has landed top players in the past. James Wiseman, Precious Achiuwa and Jalen Duren all played under Hardaway and were first-round NBA draft picks. Last year, Hardaway landed the top recruit in the nation, Emoni Bates, but due to injuries, Bates didn’t play a ton in his freshman year and ended up transferring to Eastern Michigan in his hometown.
Last season, Hardaway added Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown to his coaching staff. The knowledge and depth the pair bring will be intriguing for the James family and an option to explore. Right now, Memphis is in a good spot with one of the top point guards in the class, DJ Wagner Jr.but has yet to land a player in the 2023 high school class.