As the recruitment of Bronny James, the eldest son of LeBron James, continues to heat up, the attention he's earning for his play on the court is increasing the value he can produce for brands off of it. For a long time he has been seen as one of the most valuable players in the new NIL era, and that appeared in part to come to fruition recently after signing a deal to be a brand ambassador for Beats by Dre headphones.
The move to sign with Beats by Dre, which has long been a partner with LeBron, followed other big NIL moves after Bronny signed an endorsement deal with Nike and also signed with PDS -- a popular underwear brand that superstars like Ja Morant and Trae Young also endorse.
On the court, Bronny had a strong summer on the AAU circuit, rising from a sub-50 recruit to a borderline top-40 recruit. That has led to a heightened interest from schools across the country like Ohio State, Memphis, USC and others. And with the growing belief in the recruiting industry that college is the most likely option, his recruitment and where he will or won't land has quickly emerged as one of the biggest looming decisions in the sport.
So where will he go? Who is in the mix? What are his options? Here is the latest on LeBron James Jr. -- who goes by "Bronny" -- as we turn a corner in his recruitment process.
Will he go to college?
This is the question at the center of the Bronny James discourse right now. Just weeks 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 option. Staffs at schools rumored as possible landing spots were not giving indications that he was a viable target.
That has changed in recent weeks. In an article with Sports Illustrated, even the James family -- both father LeBron and mother Savannah -- hinted that college is increasingly looking like the most likely path forward. Here's a few snippets from the SI article:
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 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. So to date only Memphis, USC and Ohio State are the three power school programs to extend an offer, according to On3Sports. North Carolina Central and North Carolina A&T are the only other schools publicly known to have extended an offer, though there are plenty who have been linked to him as possible suitors.
Schools with reported interest
Despite only four known scholarship offers, many schools -- mostly Nike-sponsored, because the connection he has to the brand as his father's long-time partner and sponsor -- have been linked to Bronny James. The most prominent of those reported suitors is Oregon, which was recently named a leader in his recruitment by one recruiting service, and Ohio State, which is in the state his father was born and raised.
However, firm news is hard to nail down with Bronny. After that report, LeBron himself weighed in on the Oregon topic, pouring cold water on the report that suggested the Ducks' position as a frontrunner.
USC has also reportedly showed interest in James, while Michigan -- coached by Juwan Howard, who was in Miami with the Heat while LeBron was there -- has persistently popped up as a potential darkhorse.
A lot has changed in recent weeks to suggest there is momentum building for Bronny to attend college, and earlier this month, ESPN's Paul Biancardi reported that him going to college is more likely than him going other pro routes, like the G League Ignite. That seems to be the growing belief industry-wide. But both the NBL and the G League Ignite remain viable options for all talented prospects looking to take alternative routes to the NBA, including Bronny. Both leagues have produced lottery picks in recent years (Jalen Green with the G League Ignite, LaMelo Ball and Josh Giddey with the NBL), which could make both landing spots more enticing.
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?
Projection at the next level
Despite a strong run this summer on the EYBL circuit, James is just outside the top-40 national rankings and clearly outside the five-star projections that would put him in the category of a likely one-and-done. He has the talent and IQ one would expect of someone with his pedigree, but he is not viewed in the industry as a can't-miss future NBA pick.
"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," 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.""Heck, the