USC's Bronny James to prioritize team interest above all in looming NBA Draft decision

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As Bronny James‘ freshman season at USC winds down, his looming NBA Draft decision won’t focus on where he might be selected if he declares.

James is expected to weigh team interest above all else when he makes his decision to either declare for the draft or remain at USC for another season, Rich Paul told ESPN.

“I don’t value a young player getting into the lottery as much as I do getting him on the right team in the right developmental situation,” Paul, who’s expected to be James’ agent when he decides to go pro, reportedly said. 

Paul, who is the CEO of Klutch Sports and the longtime agent of LeBron James, reportedly added that while the elder James would be “head over heels excited” to play with his son, he wants it to happen “organically” and for “Bronny to be his own man.” 

The younger James’ draft stock has come into question in recent weeks as USC wraps up the regular season on March 9. Prior to the season, there was some hope that James could be a first-round NBA Draft pick as soon as 2024. The guard was a four-star recruit and was ranked as the 28th-best prospect in the Class of 2023 by 247 Sports

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However, the cardiac arrest James suffered in July caused him to miss the start of the season. The cardiac arrest, which was caused by congenital heart defect, occurred during a USC workout in July as the team hoped he’d be a contributor right away. Instead, James had to ramp up to get clearance to play in the opening month of the season. After getting fully cleared by doctors to return to play in late November, James made his Trojans debut on Dec. 11.

James hasn’t put up big numbers in his freshman season. He’s averaging just five points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He’s also mostly come off the bench, starting in just six of the 21 games for a Trojans team that’s 12-17 this season. 

Still, James could be drafted this summer. “Plenty of teams” have looked at the possibility of drafting James if he were to declare, The Athletic reported in February

LeBron James has also previously said that it’s been a dream of his to play in the NBA alongside his son, leading some to speculate over the years that a team could draft the younger James to lure the all-time great, who is a free agent this summer. Even though James said he wants his son to “be his own man,” the Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly “willing to explore” drafting the USC guard to help keep their star player this offseason. 

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