Even if Bronny James doesn’t make the Final Four, he can still transform USC
We’re not going to pretend that USC basketball isn’t trying to become a Final Four program. It certainly is. Though the school hasn’t made the Final Four since 1954 and has not had a reasonable chance of making college basketball’s ultimate showcase in decades, the 2023-2024 roster gives the Trojans a shot.
They aren’t a favorite, but they’re in the mix. They are legitimately a top-15 team based on the talent they have assembled. Bronny James is part of this picture, though Isaiah Collier (the nation’s No. 1 recruit) and Boogie Ellis (an elite scorer returning for one more year) are even bigger reasons why USC can dare to dream big. The Trojans certainly do want to make the Final Four. If Bronny James helps USC pull it off, he and Collier would become the most important recruits in USC men’s basketball history.
USC wants the Final Four and wants it badly. We can acknowledge that. Yet, we can also point out that if the Trojans don’t crack the Final Four in Glendale, Arizona, Bronny can still become a transformative figure in USC hoops history.
We’ll explain how below:
Apr 28, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Bronny James attends game six of the 2023 NBA playoffs between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
If Bronny James becomes an NBA lottery pick after one year at USC, what kind of message would it send? It would tell other recruits and their parents that superstars can thrive at USC. They get developed at USC. Bronny James would become an ambassador for USC as an NBA player. That alone would be huge.
Mar 27, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; McDonald’s All American West guard Bronny James (6) dunks the ball during the Powerade Jam Fest at Delmar Athletic Complex. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Bronny James is represented by Klutch Sports, a powerful sports management company founded by longtime LeBron James friend Rich Paul. Bronny’s success at USC, even without a Final Four berth, would pave the way for more Klutch Sports clients to go to USC and ink lucrative NIL deals. USC would be in position to get premium one-and-done players and some two-year players, not to mention top transfers. Bronny could create word-of-mouth publicity which serves as a magnet for future recruits and transfers, especially those under the Klutch Sports umbrella.
Mar 28, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; West guard Bronny James (6) during the McDonald’s All American Boy’s high school basketball game at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
How often has the Galen Center been “the place to be” for fans of USC athletics? It’s usually the Coliseum for a USC football game day on Saturday. With Bronny at USC, Galen is going to become a destination for every USC basketball home game. Suites at Galen will be prime tickets now. Alumni and booster networking will increase, fueling more donations and planned giving to the school. Bronny will be generating those kinds of productive, behind-the-scenes machinations and conversations.
Mar 28, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; West guard Bronny James (6) passes the ball during the McDonald’s All American Boy’s high school basketball game at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Gonzaga’s basketball success has, over the course of the past 25 years, improved the school’s enrollment. One would think that Bronny James choosing USC will have a positive effect on enrollment — maybe not huge or seismic, but certainly to some degree. Caleb Williams, Bronny, Juju Watkins, Bear Alexander, Lincoln Riley — USC is becoming a place where stars like to shine. That can’t hurt how high school students, both athletes and non-athletes, view the school.
Dec 11, 2021; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Sierra Canyon High School guard Bronny James (0) shoots during the first half against Perry High School at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
If Bronny James enjoys his time at USC, he not only becomes an ambassador for the program and someone who can recruit other guys to the school; he also becomes a guy who can vouch for Andy Enfield, his coaching, his leadership, his guidance. Enfield — even if he doesn’t reach the Final Four — could gain a lot more street cred and become a coach superstar-level recruits want to play for. Isaiah Collier’s season could also enhance Enfield’s reputation, but Bronny James’ name visibility might carry more weight.
In short, there are a lot of ways Bronny can significantly improve the condition of USC basketball even if he and the Trojans don’t make the 2024 Final Four.