LeBron James’s immediate goal is to win another N.B.A. championship with the Los Angeles Lakers. But longer term, he wants to play in the league with his older son, LeBron Jr., who goes by Bronny, beginning in 2024.
“I need to be on the floor with my boy,” James told ESPN in January, recalling a situation from his childhood in which Ken Griffey and his son, Ken Griffey Jr., played for the Seattle Mariners. “I got to be on the floor with Bronny.”
Bronny James, a 6-foot-3 guard, kept that goal on track Saturday by verbally committing to playing college basketball next season at the University of Southern California. He was seated at courtside Saturday night as the Lakers took a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series with the Golden State Warriors.
“First of all, congratulations to my son on his next journey and picking a great university in U.S.C.,” LeBron James said after posting 21 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists as the Lakers won Game 3, 127-97, in Los Angeles. “I’m proud of him. This is an incredible thing.”
LeBron James added that he believed Bronny would be the first member of his family, the “first one out of the James gang,” to attend college.
Bronny James made his announcement on Instagram, where he has more than seven million followers. His account had a picture of him standing in the Southern California locker room along with the caption “Fight On #committed.” U.S.C. is sponsored by Nike, which has invested heavily in his father since he entered the N.B.A. as a generational phenom in 2003.
At U.S.C., Bronny James plans to join a Sierra Canyon classmate, Juju Watkins, the top-rated girls’ prospect in the senior class. Both players have endorsement deals with Nike, and Bronny James also has one with Beats by Dre.
Memphis and Ohio State, the school LeBron has said he would have attended had he gone to college instead of going straight to the N.B.A. from high school as the No. 1 overall pick, were among the other universities linked to Bronny James. He visited Ohio State with his father in September, and fans at the football game that weekend chanted, “We want Bronny.”
Bronny James had less fanfare as a prospect than his father did (of course, few high school players get the treatment LeBron James had). He is ranked as a four-star prospect by the recruiting site 247Sports, which rates him as the No. 26 prospect in the senior class.
He won’t be the highest-ranked recruit for U.S.C. That honor belongs to Isaiah Collier, a five-star prospect from Marietta, Ga., who is rated as the No. 1 point guard in the class.
Still, Collier was busy recruiting Bronny James during the recent showcase circuit.
“‘Stay home,’ that’s my pitch,” Collier told reporters at the Nike Hoop Summit last month in Portland, Ore., where both players competed. “Why leave L.A.?”
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