The most famous recruit in the Class of 2023 also stands as the last uncommitted prospect. Four-star Bronny James, the eldest son of Lakers star LeBron James, is still deciding where he will take his talents next season (though, to be clear, South Beach has been ruled out).
Bronny is reportedly down to a final three of Ohio State, Oregon and USC, each of which offers something unique to him and his prospects of developing into a future NBA player. Ranked No. 34 in his class, it's no sure thing he'll have a path straight to the pros, much less as a one-and-done. However, his development in recent months suggests his high IQ, selfless play and shooting ability from the guard spot has at least positioned him to join his father in the NBA.
So where will he land after his high school career at Sierra Canyon comes to an end? Which finalists are in the best position to secure his commitment? Let's dive a little deeper below into his options with a look at each of the three -- ranked starting with the best fit.
When your father's net worth starts with the letter "B," geographical proximity to family and general convenience is probably relative and maybe not all that important a deciding factor. But when an option like USC is less than 10 minutes away from the Crypto.com Arena, where LeBron currently plays, it's hard to ignore.
Also hard to ignore: USC has been on the radar monitoring Bronny for a long, long time. USC coach Andy Enfield hinted in a 2018 interview that Bronny was on the staff's watch list years before he was considered a potential one-and-done prospect. An official offer wasn't reported until last fall, but that seems as if it was only a formality.
USC runs a system under Enfield that prioritizes guard play and is at its best when it has multiple weapons in the backcourt who can function as shooters and creators. Enfield was the mastermind at Florida Gulf Coast during the "Dunk City" era, you'll recall, which thrived when its guards could push the floor with athletes who could finish above the rim.
Bronny wouldn't need to be the guy right away, either. USC has already signed No. 1 overall recruit Isaiah Collier to run as its lead guard. That'd likely free him up to be a do-it-all combo guard where he could flourish in his natural position whose facilitating and selfless style would maximize what USC can do.
Off the court, Oregon's fit is impossible to ignore with Bronny. LeBron is a lifelong Nike athlete, and now Bronny is too after signing an NIL deal. There's also the relationship here with Phil Knight, the Nike founder, who is a famous Oregon alum and booster. Connections in college basketball matter.
On the court, the fit seems quite good, too. LeBron James revealed in an interview with The Oregonian this week that Bronny has been in contact with top-25 recruit Mookie Cook, an Oregon signee, and added that "Oregon has always been one of his top five or six" schools on his radar.
"I think it's the ability to put pros into the league," Said James of his son's interest in Dana Altman's program. "My son wants to be a pro. It's the way you hold guys accountable, the way they play. I guess he's seen the way they play. Dana Altman from the outside looks like a great coach."
It's not a quite a Fab Five level of talent influx to Oregon for next season, but the Ducks have the No. 8 overall class at 247Sports and would move to No. 3 with the addition of Bronny. Two of the three signees are forwards ranked inside the top 25 of the class and the other, point guard Jackson Shelstad, would theoretically leave open a spot for Bronny to fill in the backcourt.
Oregon has had a top-10 offense in adjusted efficiency and a top-10 defense three times in the last decade. The balance combined with the ability to develop pros makes the Ducks a viable contender.
3. Ohio State
Ohio State landing at No. 3 on the list is just proof that there really are no bad options for Bronny -- if indeed these are the only three schools on which he's focused. The Buckeyes arguably have the best coach of the three schools listed in Chris Holtmann, who has masterminded three top-15 offenses since taking over the program in 2017. He is also among the most criminally underrated as a tactician from a pure Xs and Os standpoint. Developing talent is where he really thrives and why Ohio State shouldn't be discounted. He turned Malaki Branham, a four-star recruit, into a top-20 draft pick in one year. He's likely about to do the same with Brice Sensabaugh, who was barely ranked inside the top-100. Big man E.J. Liddell developed into an NBA player under Holtmann as well.
There's also the fact that Ohio State is one of LeBron's favorite schools. He grew up in Akron, Ohio, played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, brought the franchise a championship and is inextricably tied to the state. The school played host to Bronny for an official visit and has long been interested.
Where Bronny will go is still a total guessing game -- he doesn't talk with the media about his recruitment and LeBron only muddies the waters -- so I'll hedge my bets here with some percentages. Sixty percent of me thinks it's USC. Thirty-seven percent of me thinks it could be Oregon. Two percent of me thinks Ohio State will get the call. The other one percent of me thinks Mike Krzyzewski will return to Duke and bring Bronny with him. The idea of him staying close to home and playing for the Trojans logistically just makes the most sense, but over and over again in recent months I've been cautioned not to write off Oregon. It has the resources to land him. It has connections in Altman, Knight and signee Mookie Cook. And it has a respectable program that could be a perfect fit on and off the floor for him as he preps for the pros.