Carrying the name of the greatest basketball player of all time offers its perks, but it also brings challenges. For LeBron James Jr., known as “Brony,” the lofty expectations surrounding his development as hope and — as LeBron James himself said he hopes will come to fruition — the two can one day play together in the game. NBA
A case of joy fodder for years — seriously, can you imagine how wild it would be to see a completely bald LeBron running the court with his oldest son?! — but that’s not the long-term prospect it once seemed. Broney is now a 17-year-old, Class of 2023 prospect who is considered a consensus top-50 national prospect in the class.
But given his strong credentials and bloodline, it’s unclear how realistic it is to expect Brony to one day in an NBA uniform. What’s more unclear is how he’s going to try and get there.
So I asked the experts to help me chart that path. What is the state of Bronny’s game? After a strong showing for greatness on the Nike EYBL circuit this summer, where do we do now? Will he go to college, and if not, what are his other options? I tapped gurus Adam Finkelstein, 247Sports Director of Scouting, and Eric Bossi, 247Sports National Basketball Director, for their insight on Brony James.
A journey through the steps of Brony
Two years ago next month, Broney debuted as a top-20 prospect in the 247Sports Composite rankings, setting expectations that he would be on a collision course for stardom. At 15, he was taller and more skilled than most of his peers, and that, combined with his pedigree and plague, helped fuel his early steam.
“When Broney first stepped up in September 2020, we were in the middle of the pandemic and there’s probably never been another time for players to step up for that debut,” Bossi said. We’ve seen a lot of Class of 2023 now and the pool of players we’re running has grown exponentially. He mixes himself up and then has some very promising performances, and personally I feel that somewhere in the 50 range is a good fit for him at this point.
James is currently ranked 49th in the 247Sports and 43rd in the 247Sports Composite. He hasn’t necessarily fallen off as a recruit — being consistently ranked among the top-50 players nationally is quite a feat, Bossi and Finkelstein agree — but he’s lost at least a few incentives overall, falling out of five. – Star to four-star recruit.
“To spend your high school years in that top 50 range is pretty consistent,” Finkelstein said. “You’ve seen all the tools before and you play a little bit on the bloodlines. It never caught that late development and the game affects winning in a more subtle way than going out and being an offensive focal point. He’s still able to see obvious tools that translate, but he’s typically more symbolic.” The five-star prospect was not volatile.
It’s not quite accurate — or fair — to characterize Brony’s journey as a recruit as a roller coaster. To be consistently ranked so highly as a recruit for such a long period of time is amazing.
“There were definitely some positive flashes for Broney and I think he had some great games during the second straight in July,” Bossi said. “He was a little more determined in scoring and seemed to play a little more freely. On the other hand, in two straight weekends in July, he didn’t play as well and the team wasn’t as good. Summer: Striving for Greatness was just 2-10 in July and those losses were often tough. So he I think it would have been a little better if he had finished in July and hopefully that’s a sign of things to come in his time. Senior year, but you have to consider the whole spring and summer.”
But the natural rise and fall of any player’s prospects is undeniably an upward trajectory for Broney. He was more aggressive as an offensive weapon on the Nike EYBL circuit this summer. Long a five-star talent, he had the skill and flair of a player, but often blended in as opposed to standing out in recent years.
“What stands out now is that he’s starting to establish himself as a core player, someone who historically always makes the right play, but doesn’t always stand out, which was a bit of a contrast to the early buzz around him,” Finkelstein said.
What does Bronny do, Bronny
What is the draw of the brony game? If he’s a bit taller — he’s 6-foot-3 and may be about to grow — beyond the initial excitement about his size is his all-around ability. Watching him in action is just like his father, he is a selfless teammate who loves to get others involved and affects the game in so many ways.
“He’s already smart and talented, a reliable shooter, a willing ballplayer and a strong defender. His game is at the next level,” Finkelstein said of his talent and what it takes to take it. I think so.”
His assured play on the circuit this season is cause for optimism.But on offense, he played unselfishly for the offense. Between the lines is a line that goes from selflessness to shyness.
“The biggest step to take in the immediate future is to be more consistent and play with less fire,” Bossi said. “Brony seems like a great teammate and because of that it will be fun to play with him, but it’s time for him to be more aggressive. He can hit shots when he’s caught and shoot situations, and I want to do that. He’s going to use his power more to his advantage and be more of a driver on defenders.” Look for him to apply pressure because he can open up the floor a bit for his teammates when he plays a more active role.
How to predict its direction
Historically, his hit rate — that is, how likely a player is to become a professional — has been the most hit-or-miss in a player’s range. (There are probably three players in the 2021 class who could be drafted next year after his second season.)
“I see Broney right now as a good high school player who has the potential to be a good player at the high level,” Bossi said.
The NBA is a goal, but it shouldn’t be the ultimate measure for a player. Granted, Broney is a very good high school player with promising potential — even if it’s no sure thing to elevate him on the basketball ladder.
“It’s very hard to pull it off, because it’s hard to imagine the path is normal,” says Finkelstein. “His father has already said he wants to play next to him in the NBA, and his father is probably the most influential person in all of basketball. Do I think he’ll be NBA ready in two years? No, maybe not. That’s what we’re seeing now. But if he wants to I won’t play on LeBron’s eloquence. If his name wasn’t Brony James, I think he would have had an impact on winning. At the college level from day one, but maybe not a one-and-done type of candidate.
Does Brony go to college?
There was a time when Broney reportedly had standing offers from Duke and Kentucky.
But that time was six years ago.
A lot has changed since then, including his situation. Right now, his recruitment — or lack thereof — is one of the most secretive topics in college hoops recruiting circles. He’s easily one of the most famous and exciting top-50 prospects in the sport over the past decade, but surprisingly, very little is known about his recruitment and even less about his prospects.
“It’s very difficult, because Broney hasn’t been available to the media, and we haven’t been able to ask him about the recruitment situation, and nobody around him is saying anything,” Bossi said. “From talking to the coaches who scouted him to recruit him, I know that trying to build and maintain the kind of relationship you want in recruiting is a little difficult because he’s not an easy kid to get along with.”
“I’ve also talked to a lot of coaches at non-Nike schools who think there’s no chance of him going to a non-Swoosh school because of his father’s ties to Nike,” he continued. “Believe me, we’d love to cover recruiting in depth, and it’s surprising that a few more schools haven’t put in a little effort, but if we don’t say who’s going to be involved and it’s not the coaches talking behind the scenes about getting involved, there’s not much we can do.
While there are no active offers listed for Broney on his 247Sports profile, some in the industry think the college route is not only viable, but possible. ESPN’s Paul Biancardi reported last week that his chances of going to college are higher than him going through other avenues, such as G League Ignite. He also added that UCLA, USC, Michigan, Ohio State and Oregon are among those interested — though the Wolverines and Bruins are reportedly not actively recruiting Broney.
It’s not clear what he wants to do behind the scenes, which may have given him some pause from programs that might not be willing to sink resources into pursuing a dead end.
“Recruiting is a bit of a mystery,” Finkelstein said. “Every player in the country is very public about their recruitment — they’re posting their offers and visits on social media — but Broney doesn’t do that, and he doesn’t give interviews. So it’s all speculation. I know some of the schools that are officially considered options for him have nothing. They told me that they had no direct contact.
This of course leaves us with one last question. Drum roll please
What’s next for Brony?
College may still be an option, and the prospect of cashing in on the NCAA level with his name, image and image makes it all the more compelling. But the secret of the recruitment seems to have left everyone. That includes going overseas to hone his skills and even signing with G League Ignite. The Athletic’s Joe Varden recently wrote that “Brony, by the end of 2023, will be in college, with the G League Ignite or in Australia… or wherever Rich Paul puts him,” leading to speculation that he could be playing in Australia’s NBL. .
Both non-college options have proven viable pro paths in the past. The G League Ignite is entering its second year but has already produced stars, including the 2021 No. 2 overall pick. The NBL in Australia has a good track record of signing and producing top talent, including LaMelo Ball, RJ Hampton and Josh Giddy.
Much depends on the next year of growth. Maybe if he gives a hint that he’s interested in attending college, schools can become more proactive. Maybe the NBL or G League Ignite will give him a chance to step up and grow his game before the NBA. Maybe it will grow a few more inches and add some more proof to the definition.
“Who knows what the future holds, but I’m certainly not looking at him and he’s not projecting like a lottery pick,” Bossi said. “Heck, the class of 2023 isn’t a great class and there aren’t a lot of guys — whatever the level — that we’re looking at and thinking, ‘Hey, that guy’s going to play 15 years in the NBA.’ . So I’m looking at him as having a chance to be a good college player at a young age, and then we’ll see what happens.