NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — It is the last AAU summer for Bronny James, the son of NBA superstar LeBron James, and the 6-foot-2 combo guard left here on a high note, cementing a good impression on the multiple NBA scouts and executives who were at Nike's Peach Jam.
Every summer, the top teams in the Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League descend upon this city. The gyms are small and packed for every game and it's a one-of-a-kind atmosphere to get early eyes on the next level of NBA talent coming up. For the James family, Peach Jam has always been a family affair.
With it being Bronny's last summer before his senior year of high school, the whole crew turned up for all but one of his games. His mom Savannah, sister Zhuri, grandma Gloria and of course his dad were there supporting Bronny and his team, Strive For Greatness. His younger brother Bryce played on the 16U team, with the family rotating between gyms to support both players. Last year, LeBron was on the bench coaching the team; this year he stayed on the sideline, occasionally pulling players aside during free throws or dead balls.
To ensure a seat for one of Bronny's games, fans, college coaches and NBA personnel had to arrive up to two games in advance before the gym reached capacity. One of the craziest AAU games of the summer came when Bronny went head-to-head with five-star Duke commit Caleb Foster. The chairs on the sideline were pushed up to make standing room for coaches behind them. Over 30 professional photographers were scattered throughout the gym, recording Bronny's every move. There's never been a game at Peach Jam where coaches and NBA scouts lined shoulder to shoulder the length of the gym and both baselines to essentially watch a couple players.
"The atmosphere was crazy and I've never really played in a game like that before," Foster told Yahoo Sports after the game. "That's probably like, top two in my career. Gym packed, NBA scouts, coaches, NBA royalty and fans all in one building. There's nothing like Peach Jam."
"It's an honor to have NBA legends like LeBron [James] and Carmelo [Anthony] come out and support us," Foster added. "It means a lot and shows that all the work I've been putting in is paying off."
Foster and his team, Team Thad, came out with the 92-74 win. The Duke-bound guard finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. James posted 16 points and added five assists.
"The most impressive thing about Bronny at this age is his poise on the court and how he consistently makes the right decision," one NBA scout told Yahoo Sports. "He's a hell of a defender and you can see he's started to grow into his body a little more."
Bronny has been up-and-down during the spring and summer AAU season. Last week was the most consistent string of games he has had all year. James left his final Peach Jam averaging 16 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists in six games.
One of the biggest improvements to James' game is the read off the pick-and-roll as the primary ball handler. In years past, he was more of a catch-and-shoot option with players like UCLA's Amari Bailey, and NBA guards Ziaire Williams and Brandon Boston Jr. creating for him in the lane during his high school career. If his defender slips and there's no hedge, James is letting it fly without hesitation. It's a very high-level, NBA read, and undoubtedly something his dad has been working with him in the gym.
"You can see the improvements he's made to his game from last year to this year," another NBA scout told Yahoo Sports. "He's proving to be more than just a name and impacts the game positively whether that's making the extra pass or offense or dropping down for loose balls in the post on defense."
The final stops for Bronny's AAU career will be in Las Vegas this week for the Big Time Finale Tournament.
Bronny will play his senior year at Sierra Canyon High School outside of Los Angeles. His recruitment has been kept under wraps his entire career but the schools involved are largely known. Duke, Ohio State, Texas, Michigan, Kansas, Tennessee, USC and Kentucky have all shown interest in Bronny over his career. James will most likely take his official visits starting in the fall but like his recruitment, they won't be announced or publicized.
The verdict is still out on whether Bronny will be a one-and-done prospect but the way he continues to improve his game is being noticed by NBA scouts. No father-son duo has ever played in the NBA at the same time and it's only a few short years before that could happen. Regardless, Bronny has made a good first impression on some NBA talent evaluators as his final AAU season concludes and he enters his senior year.