By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James’ oldest son, Bronny, says he will play basketball at the University of Southern California in the fall.
Bronny James abruptly announced his much-anticipated decision on social media Saturday, about two hours before his father’s Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of their second-round playoff series.
The 18-year-old James was a McDonald’s All-American just like his father, but the 6-foot-3 guard was among the few uncommitted elite high school basketball prospects heading toward the summer. The namesake son of the top scorer in NBA history played at Sierra Canyon School, which is known for educating scions of the sports and entertainment industries in Chatsworth, an outer suburban neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Bronny James announced his decision by writing the Trojans’ school slogan, “Fight On,” below a photo of himself wearing his high school uniform in the Trojans’ locker room at the Galen Center.
James and his Sierra Canyon team played at the arena last January, beating a team from Georgia’s Wheeler High School led by elite recruit Isaiah Collier — who is now James’ teammate at USC.
“Congratulations to my son on his next journey, on picking a great university,” James said after the Lakers routed Golden State 127-97 in Game 3. “I’m proud of him.”
Although he isn’t completely sure about all of his great-grandparents, the elder James believes Bronny is the first person from his family to go to college.
“This is an incredible thing,” LeBron added. “Obviously, his dad didn’t go to school. His mom didn’t go to college. It’s super-cool. … USC is getting a great kid. He’s there to play basketball, (but) they’re going to be super surprised at how great a kid he is, even though they’ve been recruiting him for a while.”
LeBron James has been an active, supportive parent for his sons’ basketball dreams, even amid the demands of a pro career now in its 20th season. The elder James also has frequently mentioned his desire to play in the NBA alongside Bronny, though the logistics of achieving such a dream would be daunting.
If Bronny left USC after one season in 2024 and then landed an NBA job, his father would turn 40 during his son’s rookie season.
“I was serious,” James said. “And I’m still serious about it. Obviously, I’ve got to continue to keep my body and my mind fresh, I think my mind most importantly. … But at the end of the day, I’ve done what I had to do in this league, and my son is going to take his journey.
“Just because it’s my aspiration (to play together) doesn’t mean it’s his, and I’m absolutely OK with that,” James added. “My job is just to support my son in whatever he wants to do. … One thing about being a parent is it’s not always about what you want. It’s about listening to your kids and what they want, and that’s when you get a real relationship.”
LeBron James has said he would have played at Ohio State, relatively close to his native Akron, if he hadn’t gone straight to the NBA in 2003.
After Bronny James also chose to stay close to home for college, he will join an already loaded Trojans roster coming off the school’s third straight NCAA Tournament appearance under coach Andy Enfield. Bronny James and Enfield both attended the Lakers’ victory in Game 3 and got big cheers when they appeared on the scoreboard accompanied by USC’s fight song.
Several key contributors to last season’s USC team are returning, headlined by star guard Boogie Ellis, who led the Trojans with 17.7 points per game. USC also will have Collier, a point guard and one of the top overall recruits in the current high school class.
“Welcome to the family,” Ellis tweeted to Bronny.
Many recruiting observers wondered whether USC’s strong roster at guard would dissuade Bronny James from choosing the Trojans, perhaps steering him toward Oregon, Ohio State or an alternative to higher education. Instead, the son of the four-time NBA champion and four-time league MVP didn’t back down from the challenge of contributing to USC’s current surge to national prominence.
Bronny James is one of the nation’s top prospects at point guard, with playmaking skills, a steady jump shot and perimeter defense that could be immediately valuable to the Trojans. His recruiting was done with no public fanfare, however: He gave no significant hints about his decision before he announced his destination Saturday, several months after many of his fellow high school seniors chose their schools.
The younger James’ full name is LeBron James Jr., but he’s much better known by his family nickname. His younger brother, 15-year-old Bryce, is also an elite collegiate prospect at Sierra Canyon.
Last month, James spent the Saturday between the Lakers’ 81st and 82nd games of the regular season flying back and forth to Portland. James made the one-day trip with his mother, his wife, Bryce and Zhuri to watch Bronny play in the Nike Hoop Summit for Team USA.
“I wasn’t going to miss it,” James said at the time. “I understand how important fatherhood is, just coming from a no-father household. … We always try to support each other in all our endeavors. I’m only as good as my family.”
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