LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Lakers stars LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony were among the stars courtside at Staples Center, a place where they play on a regular basis, to watch James’ son, Bronny, and his high school team, Sierra Canyon, against James’ alma mater St. Vincent-St. Mary’s.
Bronny had a huge night leading both teams in scoring with 19 points as Sierra Canyon comfortably beat St. Vincent-St. Mary, 71-53, at The Chosen-1’s Invitational.
"It felt special playing on the same court as he's played," Bronny James said of his father after the win. "I'm getting a lot of confidence from that, and it was a really special game for me. Afterwards, he just said he liked everything I was doing, with my poise and my pace for the game."
The Trailblazers were without their best player Amari Bailey after he suffered an ankle sprain at practice Friday. Bailey, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard heading to UCLA next year, is one of the best high school prospects in the country. However, Sierra Canyon got off to a hot start and never looked back.
Bronny James hit two 3-pointers in the first quarter, and LeBron James was out of his seat after senior Shy Odom hit a deep three at the buzzer to extend the lead to 15. Bronny led both teams with 11 points at halftime and was perfect from 3-point range. The Trailblazers did a little bit of everything in the second half and had four players finish in double digits: James, Odom, Ramel Lloyd and Kijani Wright.
Odom, a Howard commit, had his biggest rebounding night and finished with a double-double, connecting for 17 points and 13 rebounds.
"This is our deepest team we've ever had, and we try to do things that are legendary here and playing in this game at Staples is legendary," Sierra Canyon head coach Andre Chevalier said. "The fact that they played the way they did, just really speaks to who they are as young men and I'm super proud of them. This is going to be the foundation for the rest of our year."
During the game, LeBron James was all business and could be heard telling Bronny to slide his feet and not go under the screen on defense. When the Trailblazers were on offense, he told his son to keep shooting and yelled at the refs for fouls at the rim, just like any basketball dad would do. He looked relaxed throughout, enjoying the game and chatting with other fans courtside during halftime.
This is the second time in Bronny’s high school career that these two teams have faced one another. The first game took place in Columbus, Ohio, two years ago when Bronny was just a freshman. The 6-foot-2 combo guard had the game-winning play where he stole the ball at half-court and finished with a layup to secure the win, 59-56.
As a freshman, Bronny played alongside five-star prospects B.J. Boston and Ziaire Williams, who are both NBA rookies this season. Saturday night, Bronny was the one leading the Trailblazers.
"Bronny has, over the last couple of weeks, taken great strides and for him to show his ability, his confidence, his poise in a game like this was amazing," Chevalier said. "With someone like Amari [Bailey] being out, Bronny has stepped up and showed his leadership on the court."
There’s a lot of pressure that comes with being LeBron James’ son, but Bronny has handled the notoriety extremely well during his high school career. On the court, he’s more confident bringing the ball up and has adopted the “next play” mentality from his father.
Not a lot is known about Bronny’s recruitment, but Duke, UCLA, Ohio State, Michigan and Tennessee have all shown interest in James’ oldest son.
Bronny is 2-0 against his dad’s former high school. The 17-year-old has been a spectator numerous times at Staples, but Saturday evening, the spotlight was on him and he showed out, just like his dad has done countless times on the same court.