Bronny James, the eldest son of Lakers star LeBron James and one of the top prospects in the 2023 class, is one of the only high school stars participating in the McDonald's All-American game this year to have not already committed to either a school or a pro path. That didn't stop him from putting on a show Monday as McDonald's week kicked off in earnest.
James, a four-star recruit and a consensus top-40 national recruit, unloaded his bag of tricks at Monday's dunk contest for the All-American games with a flurry of athletic moves. The first to bust out the routine was a reverse windmill self-alley oop that drew ooooohs and aahhhhhs from the crowd.
Bronny James first dunk in the dunk contest 😳 pic.twitter.com/Z94i3oc2g5— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) March 28, 2023
He also pulled out the standard-fare windmill move in his routine with a flashy front-facing style yam.
Bronny James going crazy 😳 pic.twitter.com/JEJqv4Tnm5— Shannonnn sharpes Burner (PARODY Account) (@shannonsharpeee) March 28, 2023
Oh, and for good measure, James dunked over James -- Bronny over his younger brother Bryce -- in an acrobatic and imaginative finish.
Bronny James dunked over Bryce 🔥 pic.twitter.com/TWPXoYm5U5— Shannonnn sharpes Burner (PARODY Account) (@shannonsharpeee) March 28, 2023
That's just a sample of why college teams -- and soon, NBA teams -- are fascinated with James' development and trajectory. Over the last few months he has blossomed from a fringe NBA player into a potential one-and-done talent, with Ohio State, USC and Oregon reportedly landing in his final three schools with a decision coming sometime soon.
Last summer Bronny had a strong showing on the AAU circuit as he rose from a sub-50 recruit to a borderline top-40 talent. That rise has only continued in recent months as he checks in now at No. 34 in the national rankings at 247Sports.
It's been a long and winding recruitment for Bronny with uncertainty not only about where he will land in college but also if he would go to college at all -- there was some speculation he would consider turning pro out of high school at one point -- but his future is beginning to crystalize of late and he stands as the highest-rated uncommitted recruit still on the board for the 2023 cycle to add some flair to end his decision-making process.
So where will he go? Here is the latest on LeBron James Jr. -- who goes by "Bronny" -- as we turn a corner in his recruitment process.
Bronny named to Nike Hoop Summit roster
The prestigious annual Nike Hoop Summit, held each year at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, sponsored by Nike and organized by USA Basketball, will feature Bronny on its U.S. roster this year. USA Basketball on Tuesday released the full U.S. roster for the event, which features all the best prospects from around the globe, and included James along with a host of likely future NBA players. Top five recruits Isaiah Collier and Kentucky-bound five-stars Justin Edwards and DJ Wagner were also among those named to the U.S. roster.
Bronny earns McDonald's All-American honors
The rosters for the 2023 McDonald's All-American teams were released and Bronny was one of 24 players to earn this year's distinction as one of the best players in high school basketball. Bronny is the only of the 24 currently not committed to a school or other pro path for next season. He was named to the West roster alongside five-star USC guard signee Isaiah Collier and four-star Oregon forward commit Mookie Cook, both of which are headed to schools reportedly under final consideration by Bronny.
Will he go to college?
By all indications, college is the likeliest option for Bronny James now. Just months ago there was a wide expectation within the industry that turning pro out of high school -- either to go to the G League Ignite, the NBL in Australia or perhaps with Overtime Elite -- was the most likely path he'd take. Staffs at schools rumored as possible landing spots were not giving indications that he was a viable target and believed him to be uninterested in attending college.
That tide has changed in recent months. In an article with Sports Illustrated last August, even the James family -- both father LeBron and mother Savannah -- hinted that college is increasingly looking like the most likely path forward. That seems to be all but confirmed as news broke this week of his final three schools and an imminent commitment. From SI:
When I sit with them, the family is undecided. LeBron talks through the options, giving each equal weight, and says they'll decide in a family sit-down. Savannah tells me Bronny "wants to have a collegiate career," and I get the sense that she would like that as well. "I think it would be really cool for him to start with collegiate basketball, just to start his legacy there," he says.
Soon enough, in early August—after LeBron tells me, "The greatest thing I can see right now is my two boys on the same team"—Bryce and Bronny share the floor for the first time while playing for the California Basketball Club on an overseas tour, and LeBron is overwhelmed, tweeting, "This is INSANE!! I'm EMOTIONAL AF!!WOW." And the future is getting a bit clearer: When I check in with LeBron in late August he says that Bronny now "wants to go the college route," and later that week Bryce receives his first DI offer, from Duquesne's Keith Dambrot, LeBron's old high school coach.
Who has offered Bronny?
Six-plus years ago, Duke and Kentucky reportedly had extended standing offers to Bronny. But it's not clear if either school has maintained contact with him, much less if those offers still stand. Either way it appears he's zeroed in on three schools ranging from the two west coast schools (Oregon, USC) and the school from the state LeBron was born and raised in (Ohio State).
Projection at the next level
Despite a strong run this summer on the EYBL circuit and a continued ascent this winter with Sierra Canyon, James is a four-star prospect ranked just outside the top-30 national rankings and clearly outside the five-star projections that would put him in the category of a likely one-and-done. Whether or not he can be a one-and-done might depend on who you ask, but there's no denying he has the talent and IQ of a future pro even if projecting him ahead isn't quite so simple.
"Who knows what the future will hold for him, but I'm certainly not watching him and thinking that he projects as a lottery pick," 247Sports recruiting expert Eric Bossi told me. "Heck, the Class of 2023 is not a particularly great class and there really aren't that many guys -- regardless of ranking -- that we are looking at and thinking 'Hey, that guy is gonna play in the NBA for 15 years.' So, I'm looking at him as a kid who has a chance to be a pretty good college player, and then let's see what happens from there."
Bryce James developing into a talent
Bronny's younger brother, Bryce Maximus James, who is one of two of LeBron's sons and one of his three offspring, has emerged over the last year as a potentially interesting long-term prospect alongside Bronny. A 2025 recruit, he has sprouted to around 6-foot-3, thinned out and has a long, wiry frame that has triggered intrigue about his trajectory.
LeBron, for his part, has already stated his goal about his oldest son -- he wants to play in the NBA with him -- but Bryce's development has opened up the door for the Lakers star to now at least hint at aiming for playing alongside his youngest, too.
"I feel like I could play for quite a while," LeBron told SI. "So it's all up to my body, but more importantly, my mind. If my mind can stay sharp and fresh and motivated, then the sky's not even a limit for me. I can go beyond that. But we shall see."
No father-son duo has ever played together in an NBA game, making the prospect of LeBron and Bronny playing together a longshot in itself. So a father playing with two of his sons in the NBA seems aspirational and perhaps even outlandish. Then again, LeBron in his career has defied the laws of longevity. Who knows where he'll be in three or four years?