The Bronny Effect
Who should want a top-50 recruit and everything that comes with being LeBron James' son? Oregon. That's who.
HILLSBORO — For a moment it seemed the crowd of 3,500 that packed every available seat, floor space and spot along the railing forgot what it came here to do.
This was the Bronny James Show, after all, and the Sierra Canyon senior’s appearance at the Les Schwab Invitational is what had the Liberty High School parking lots packed hours before tip-off, with fans picking up and walking from blocks away to the gym through strong winds and rain.
The LSI has never been short on star power — Kevin Love played here. Kevin Durant played here. Ben Simmons played here. But it was the presence of James, the oldest son of Lakers star LeBron James, that had fans packing the bleachers for the two opening acts featuring local teams (Grant and Cleveland) playing national powerhouses (Bishop Gorman and No. 1 Duncanville).
Cleveland point guard Jamel Pichon, who scored a hard-fought 17 points, may never play in front of a crowd like that again.
That’s the Bronny Effect.
And when the 6-foot-3 combo guard was introduced before Sierra Canyon’s opening game against Jesuit, the crowd let out a, well, it’s hard to explain. It was loud, but it was a mixture of cheers and muffled boos — almost like they hadn’t quite made up their minds.
This was the kid here to dominate the local Crusaders. This was the kid followed around by his own film crew. This was the kid ranked 40th in his class, yet comes with the caveat of a traveling circus.
Bronny is no Bron. He can’t jump out of the gym. He’s not an oversized tight end with sprinter speed. He’s patient and lets the game come to him, but unlike his father the play in the gym doesn’t revolve around him. He’s pretty deadly with the corner-3, has a solid handle, sees passing lanes and, let’s be fair to the kid, has some bounce. It was his chase down block of a Jesuit layup that sent the crowd into a frenzy just minutes into Sierra Canyon’s 87-61 victory on Tuesday. Whatever apprehension the gym had earlier evaporated as James led all scorers with 22 points that included six 3s.
The next day James pumped in 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting in a 87-48 win over Central Catholic and threw down a Tomahawk slam that, if you squinted enough, looked like it could have come from someone in a St. Vincent–St. Mary’s jersey 20 years ago.
Dana Altman saw that one. The Oregon coach spent his Wednesday evening in a courtside seat watching UO commit Jackson Sheldstad of West Linn drop 43 points in a win over Tualatin before taking in the play of James, who the Ducks are considered to be one of the front-runners for. That in itself isn’t surprising: Oregon has been in consistent contention for the nation’s top players since its Final Four run in 2017 and the school’s relationship and proximity to Nike likely carries some weight for a family well paid by the shoe company.