With NCAA Career Off to a Shaky Start, What Can Bronny James and USC Do Better in the New Year?

Published 12/31/2023, 6:03 AM EST

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Oregon State’s strong start to the second half against USC was crucial in securing their victory lately. The 11-point run showcased their offensive prowess and extended their lead to a comfortable 20 points. Pope’s 3-pointer was a highlight of this run, energizing the team and demoralizing their opponents. With 15:13 remaining in the game, Oregon State had a commanding lead of 50-30. Bronny James made an immediate impact when he entered the game near 12:17 in the first half. Displaying his defensive skills, he swiftly stole the ball near mid-court and converted it into a three-point play. This play not only showcased his athleticism but also his ability to contribute on both ends of the court.

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It is impressive to see James Jr. perform well on the court, considering he had a cardiac arrest during practice on July 24. Although he has a minute limit to ensure his health and recovery, Bronny has shown resilience and determination to continue playing at a high level.

Bronny James makes his debut after cardiac arrest

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Despite only making his collegiate debut on December 6 after cardiac arrest, Bronny has wasted no time in proving his worth. In this game, he played a season-high 20 minutes and made the most of his playing time. He demonstrated his shooting abilities by going 6 of 11 from the floor, including two successful 3-pointers. Additionally, he contributed two assists and one steal to further solidify his all-around skills.

On the other hand, USC is facing difficulties at the start of the Pac-12 season, having lost five of their last six games. However, having three consecutive conference home games could provide them with an opportunity to turn their season around. The home court advantage and familiar surroundings may help USC regain its confidence and secure much-needed victories.

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While it’s true that Bronny had little to do with USC’s defeats prior to his comeback, he hasn’t exactly had the kind of impact that many had hoped for. With only 19 regular-season games remaining and the very real possibility of missing the NCAA Tournament, it makes sense for junior James to seriously consider returning to the Trojans for his senior year.

It’s understandable that Coach Andy Enfield has been slowly incorporating Bronny into the team, considering he had a cardiac arrest in July that kept him out at the start of the season. In 15.5 minutes per game, he is averaging 5.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.0 assists while shooting 66.7% (2-3) from two and 33% (4-12) from three.

With only 19 games remaining in the regular season and the genuine chance of not qualifying for the NCAA Tournament, looking at statistics from such a limited number of games doesn’t provide a complete picture. However, it would be wise for James Jr. to think about staying with the Trojans for another year instead of entering the 2024 NBA Draft.

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What’s next for James Jr. and the Trojans?

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LeBron has expressed his desire to play in the NBA with his son, Bronny, and the pressure to enter the league is real for Bronny, who recently turned 39. No matter how well Bronny does as a rookie, an NBA team will probably select him in order to have a chance to sign LeBron, who is leading the Lakers with an average of 25.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.4 assists.

However, a poor Pac-12 limits Bronny’s opportunity to demonstrate his abilities against elite collegiate athletes and prevents him from making significant progress during his time in college. With the exits of Boogie Ellis, who is out, and Isaiah Collier, who will be a high choice in 2024, a return to USC would provide him an opportunity to start in 2024–25.

USC should improve team play in the coming year, as they are already filled with a talented roster. However, the presence of Bronny James should never be a distraction but a boost to the team, as everyone should be given an equal and fair opportunity to play. Though Bronny James is trying his best to keep up with the team,. There is huge pressure on his shoulders due to his father’s wish to play with his son.

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Bronny is going to play in the NBA, but entering the league too soon might impede his growth and harm his long-term prospects. Instead, going back to school could help him become a more polished player overall, especially because his father doesn’t appear to be slowing down like other players his age. Whereas, USC shouldn’t be overwhelmed with media pressure, as they have to work internally to bring back the spirit that they possess.

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Written by:

Nima Murugan

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“Basketball isn’t an act of jumping jacks, it’s a sport mirroring life through assists and rebounds”. Before becoming an NBA writer at EssentiallySports, I was drawn to the world of basketball when 'The Chosen One' first started locking horns with 'His Airness' over the GOAT debate. Some discourses shape your imagination and rightly so.
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Edited by:

Bilal Handoo

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