Bronny James declares for NBA draft, enters transfer portal

USC guard Bronny James, left, drives to the basket in front of Oregon guard Jackson Shelstad.
USC guard Bronny James drives to the basket as Oregon guard Jackson Shelstad defends during the first half of a game in February. (Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

Bronny James, son of LeBron James, announced that he would declare for the 2024 NBA draft. He’ll also enter the transfer portal while maintaining his NCAA eligibility.

“I’ve had a year with some ups and downs but all added to growth for me as a man, student and athlete,” he posted on his Instagram account.

James played 25 games this season for USC, averaging 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

“Thank you to USC for an amazing Freshman year, and as always thankful for my family, friends, doctors, athletic trainers and fans for their support,” he wrote in his social media post.

By not signing with an agent, James maintains the option to rescind both decisions and remain at USC for another season.

Read more: LeBron James on Bronny James' future: 'He has some tough decisions to make'

USC hired former Arkansas coach Eric Musselman on Thursday to replace Andy Enfield, who recruited James and coached him last season before leaving for Southern Methodist.

Reports about James entering the portal surfaced Wednesday, but LeBron James said they were premature.

“Bronny is his own man and he has some tough decisions to make and when he’s ready to make those decisions, he’ll let us all know,” LeBron James said after the Lakers played Toronto on Wednesday. “But as his family, we’re going to support whatever he does.”

LeBron James has long said he hoped to play in the NBA with his son, addressing it on the record as recently as last year’s postseason.

“I was serious and I’m still serious about it,” he said then. “Obviously I've got to continue to keep my body and my mind fresh. I think my mind, most importantly. If my mind goes then my body will just be like, ‘OK, what are we doing?’ So, but, at the end of the day, either if I am or if I’m not, I’ve done what I’ve had to do in this league and my son is going to take his journey.

Read more: USC names Eric Musselman its new men's basketball coach

“And whatever his journey, however his journey lays out, he’s going to do what’s best for him. And as his dad, and his mom, Savannah, and his brother and sister, we’re going to support him in whatever he decides to do. So, just because that’s my aspiration or my goal, doesn’t mean it’s his. And I’m absolutely OK with that.”

LeBron James can become an unrestricted free agent when his two-year deal expires after this season, though the contract does have a player option for next season.

Bronny James, a five-star recruit from Sierra Canyon, suffered sudden cardiac arrest during a team workout on July 24 at USC. He lost consciousness and was eventually diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. He later underwent surgery before being cleared to return in December.

Musselman, who had an introductory news conference at USC on Friday morning, was asked about the roster and whether he's spoken to Bronny.

"l’ve texted all the players that are currently on the roster, recruits that have committed and maybe decommited, from that aspect, we are going to try to communicate with everybody," Musselman said. "Today will be a huge day for that."

The new coach later added he has been trying to get in contact with Bronny, but acknowledged the player has a lot of options.

"This opportunity here, if you want to play at USC, we'd certainly love to have you," Musselman said. "Such a talented young man."

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.