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Bronny James declares for 2024 NBA Draft, enters transfer portal

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By Shams Charania, Alex Andrejev and Sam Vecenie

Bronny James, the son of NBA superstar LeBron James, will enter the 2024 NBA Draft while maintaining his college eligibility, he announced in a post on Instagram on Friday. The 19-year-old guard, who played his freshman season at USC, will also enter the transfer portal to have flexibility as he works out for NBA teams before making a final decision based on teams’ evaluations.

The draft is Bronny’s priority if he and Rich Paul, CEO of Klutch Sports Group, feel comfortable with his standing, sources close to Bronny said.

Bronny’s decision to pursue the draft and transfer portal simultaneously concludes a season at USC that began with a serious health scare and ended with his remarkable return to the court in a bench role. During a team workout in July, Bronny collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest, an incident a James family spokesperson later said was caused by a congenital heart defect.

Four months later, doctors cleared him to return to practice. He made his collegiate debut in an overtime loss to Long Beach State on Dec. 10, scoring four points in 16 minutes. Bronny appeared in USC’s final 25 games, starting six and averaging 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 19.3 minutes.

“I’ve had a year with some ups and downs but all added to growth for me as a man, student and athlete,” Bronny wrote in his announcement Friday.

Bronny, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound guard, was not included in The Athletic’s most recent mock draft in mid-March.

Questions about Bronny’s future picked up after his coach at USC, Andy Enfield, left for the head-coaching vacancy at SMU on Monday. On Tuesday, LeBron said Bronny had “some tough decisions to make.”



Ranking the best players in the NCAA men’s basketball transfer portal

“At the end of the day, Bronny’s his own man,” LeBron said after the Lakers’ win over the Raptors in Toronto, when asked about Bronny and the transfer portal.

“He has some tough decisions to make, and when he’s ready to make those decisions, he’ll let us all know. But as his family, we’re going to support whatever he does.”

LeBron, 39, has repeatedly expressed his desire to play in the NBA with his son before his Hall of Fame career ends.

“My last year will be played with my son,” James told The Athletic in February 2022. “Wherever Bronny is at, that’s where I’ll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year. It’s not about the money at that point.”

The elder James has a $51.4 million player option with the Lakers next season, which he can decline this offseason to become a free agent. On Sunday, he discussed his own future, saying he’s not sure when he’s retiring but it’s approaching soon.

“Not very long,” James said when asked how long he plans to continue playing in the NBA. “Not very long. I’m on the other side, obviously, of the hill. I’m not gonna play another 21 years, that’s for damn sure. But not very long. I don’t know when that door will close as far as when I’ll retire. But I don’t have much time left.”

Scouting report

In terms of Bronny’s game, there is a lot to be excited about even if he’s not necessarily the first-round, one-and-done prospect that some expected. James is a terrific defensive player. He fights at the point of attack and has the athleticism and length to stick with most guards in a disruptive fashion. He has good hands and is strong enough to cut off defenders’ drives in their tracks. He’s a sharp team defender with great feel for the game.

Beyond that, he showed improvement as a perimeter shooter last year in high school and looked confident taking them at USC. He only hit 27 percent of them, which is an issue. But I think his real shooting talent is probably a bit better than that.

The idea here is a 3-and-D guard who plays hard, does the little things, leads the break off of defensive rebounds, fills transition lanes, and attacks the rim when he gets a chance. He’s also a sharp decision-maker and a good passer. But even next year, I’d expect him to be more of a role player than a star if he were to stay in college and transfer to the high-major level.

He’s not a particularly high-level ballhandler, which is an issue as it refers to actually creating offense. He just needs time to develop that part of his game given that he’s something like 6-foot-3. He struggled to get any halfcourt paint touches this year, and isn’t much of a pull-up shooter yet. — Sam Vecenie, NBA Draft writer

What if Bronny returns to school?

There are real skills here that can impact winning basketball, and sources across the NBA and college basketball spectrum praise Bronny’s demeanor in the face of immense fame. He has a real chance to be a valuable player at the college level. I would bet on him being a plus player next year if he’s placed in the right context with dynamic shot creators next to him.

Due to the cardiac episode he had last offseason, he didn’t get a chance to have a real summer to improve. Maybe he’ll get a clear summer to work on his game and take a leap. The athletic tools are there. But it’s going to take time if the goal is an NBA player. — Vecenie

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(Photo: David Becker / Getty Images)

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