Bronny James is expected to make himself eligible for the 2024 NBA Draft, which falls one year after his high school graduation. What he plans to do in the year between finishing high school and the draft, though, has remained somewhat mysterious. The Athletic’s Joe Vardon listed three possibilities: the traditional path through college basketball, a stint with G-League Ignite, or, as a more surprising option, a gap year spent playing in the NBL in Australia.
This path is hardly new. Several American prospects have taken this route through the league’s Next Stars program, with LaMelo Ball serving as its most well-known alum. The primary question any team, or league, will have to face in recruiting James will be who is best-suited to develop him for the NBA.
There isn’t a clear answer to that question yet. James has slid down his class rankings over the past few years. 247Sports now ranks him 50th in the class of 2023, and he has no official offers. While it would hardly be unheard of for a player in that position to reach the NBA organically, that caliber of prospect tends to do best as a multi-year college player. All indications for now suggest that James is headed to the NBA as soon as possible.
His father, LeBron James, has hinted in the past that he wants his son to attend Duke … but with a catch. In 2018, he said of former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski “hope he’s still at the helm when my boy comes up.” The elder James played for Coach K in the Olympics twice, but the former Duke coach retired after the 2021 NCAA Tournament. That would seemingly open up Bronny’s recruitment slightly.
The plan in the James family has always been for the two LeBrons to spend at least one season on the same team in the NBA. The hope would seemingly be for them to do so in Los Angeles with the Lakers, but it should be noted that James became eligible for a contract extension Thursday but did not sign one. He can become a free agent next offseason if he chooses, and of course, some team hoping to sign James could simply draft Bronny before the Lakers have the chance.
This is a problem for the James family to tackle in 2024. For now, the question is how he should spend the season between high school and the NBA. There is no clear answer yet, but if Australia is suddenly in the mix, they may be considering a wide range of options.