NCAA Basketball: Southern California at Washington State

After one season at USC, Bronny James will likely be suiting up in a different uniform for the 2024-25 basketball season. The son of NBA legend LeBron James announced Friday that he will go through the NBA's pre-draft workout process while also entering the transfer portal, just like many other college players around the country are doing.

Given his pedigree, the weeks ahead will likely be filled with speculation over whether Bronny may expedite his professional basketball timeline for the sake of being able to play in the NBA with his 39-year old father. But returning to college basketball could wind up as the smarter choice for Bronny, who still has plenty to prove after averaging 4.8 points and 2.1 assists in 19.3 minutes per game for the Trojans.

If Bronny does return to the college game, he should have plenty of suitors. Though his production was limited as a freshman, there were extenuating circumstances at play. He was rushed to the hospital on July 24 after collapsing during a practice, and further testing revealed a congenital heart defect. Less than two weeks after he was fully cleared, he made his collegiate debut for USC against Long Beach State on Dec. 10.

Adjusting to college basketball is difficult for every freshman in an era when age and experience reign supreme. For Bronny, the adjustment was even more pronounced because of the health scare that deprived him of critical development months ahead of the season. Thus, it stands to reason that he could enjoy a leap in productivity during his sophomore campaign. 

If Bronny James returns to college basketball, here are some transfer destinations to watch.


Duquesne's new coach is Dru Joyce, who played high school basketball with LeBron at St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, Ohio. The two have remained close, giving Joyce an obvious personal connection with Bronny's recruitment. Joyce spent the past two seasons as an assistant at Duquesne under Keith Dambrot, who coached Joyce and James in high school. The Dukes are coming off a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and their national visibility has never been higher. Bronny would have a chance to shine in the Atlantic 10 with a role that may not be available at high-major programs.


Oregon was heavily involved with Bronny as a high school prospect, and coach Dana Altman is no stranger to working the transfer portal. The Ducks are a big-time Nike brand, meaning there is obvious synergy with the James family. Star players N'Faly Dante and Jermaine Couisnard are out of eligibility, which creates a major production void. Altman has a hefty amount of production to replace, and James could certainly help with that.

Ohio State

Ohio State was among the teams heavily involved with James' recruitment the first time. Given the family's deep ties to Ohio, it was no surprise that the Buckeyes were in the mix. The coach during Bronny's initial recruitment was Chris Holtmann. Now, it is 37-year-old Jake Diebler, who has been on the Buckeyes' staff since 2019. He energized the program with a late-season run that came up just shy of landing an improbable NCAA Tournament bid. One big question here: what type of role would be available for Bronny? Meechie Johnson is transferring back to Ohio State after leading South Carolina in scoring this past season and figures to factor prominently into the team's backcourt plans.


If Bronny wants to stay local, then UCLA could make sense. The Bruins need help after a 16-17 season and are already hitting the portal hard with additions such as Skyy Clark (Louisville) and Kobe Johnson (USC). Coach Mick Cronin isn't in the business of chasing clout and may not have a guaranteed role for Bronny. But if Bronny wants to stay local and is willing to fight for his minutes, then he could make sense at UCLA.


It's common for players to follow their coach to a new school. With Andy Enfield heading from USC to SMU, the Mustangs are an obvious team to watch. Enfield remained complimentary of James and his potential even late into the 2023-24 season.

Jackson State

It's an obvious long shot that someone of James' visibility would end up in the SWAC, but Jackson State's head coach is Mo Williams, who was teammate's with LeBron twice in Cleveland, including when the Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA title. That bond and connection could give JSU a foothold to recruit Bronny. Deion Sanders was able to attract big-time football talent to Jackson State. Perhaps Williams can do the same on the hardwood.