Bronny James making name for himself at NBA Draft Combine: ‘There needs to be that divide between Bronny and dad LeBron James

CHICAGO — Bronny James walked to the podium for his 20-minute media availability Tuesday night at the NBA Draft Combine to over 20 cameras and 30 reporters. This has been the norm for his life ever since he was 14 years old, with cameras lining the baseline at every single one of his games and people following his every move. It all comes with being the oldest son of one of the greatest to ever play the game, LeBron James.

“It’s a lot and it’s built me into a stronger individual,” Bronny James said. “All of this, I’m extremely grateful, but it’s a lot sometimes. I don’t ever want to be that guy and say that all this pressure is what’s compelling me to not perform as well. It’s something that I have to deal with and it’s been present my whole life.”

James was one of 78 players invited to participate in the NBA Draft Combine this week. The list of participants are voted on by NBA scouts and executives based on who they want to see during the pre-draft process.

May 14, 2024; Chicago, IL, USA; Bronny James talks to the media during the 2024 NBA Draft Combine at Wintrust Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Bronny James talks to the media during the 2024 NBA Draft Combine at Wintrust Arena. (David Banks-USA TODAY Sports) (USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Connect / Reuters)

“I’m extremely grateful to be here and given the opportunity to be here,” James said. “I’m just trying to showcase my best work that I’ve been putting in after the season and just take it all in.”

The combine kicked off on Monday with measurements, agility testing and shooting drills. James took the court with the last group of the day. He looked visibly stronger compared to the college season and in great shape. His official measurements came in at 6-foot-1 1/2 (without shoes), 210.4 pounds and a 6-7 1/4 wingspan. The first portion of the agility testing was the vertical jump, and he recorded a 40.5 max, the third-best score of the combine.

After the agility testing it was time to hit the court for a handful of shooting drills, 3-on-3 drills and pick-and-roll reps. Bronny started off slow, trying to find his rhythm like most players throughout the day. It wasn’t until the 3-point star drill (25 shots running from all five spots on the court continuously) when he really started to shine. He made 12 in a row, not missing a 3-ball in a full 1:15, and went 19-for-25, finishing in second place behind UConn’s Alex Karaban, who hit 21-of-25 attempts.

Bronny supported the other players in his group when they were going through drills, took feedback from the coaches and never once looked out of place. NBA scouts and executives left the first day of drills impressed with his 3-point shooting and intrigued by him as a legit NBA prospect.

“It’s clear he understands the NBA game,” one NBA scout told Yahoo Sports. “He still has a long way to go, but the college game is vastly different from the NBA, and he has a skillset that translates.”

During Day 2 of the combine Tuesday, Bronny took the court for the first 5-on-5 scrimmage. He started for Team St. Andrews and shared the court with college players that were leaders on their respective teams all season: Antonio Reeves (Kentucky), Mark Sears (Alabama), Dillon Jones (Weber State), Baylor Scheierman (Creighton) and Jesse Edwards (West Virginia). Bronny was making the extra pass, moving well off the ball and was solid on the defensive glass. He was physical and ran the floor well while not forcing anything. Team St. Andrews took home the win and Bronny finished with 4 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals in 20 minutes.

“I feel like I played well,” Bronny said after the game. “My job is just to play a role and play the right way and try to get my teammates involved. I was just super grateful for the opportunity to be out there.”

LeBron and his wife, Savannah, are expected to be at the scrimmage Wednesday, as parents and agents are allowed to come watch the combine for the first time this year.

“My dad has been talking to me after each day, just checking in,” Bronny said. “He’s just given me words of wisdom and encouragement.”

Bronny averaged only 4.8 points and 2.1 assists during his freshman season at USC. He sat out the first half of the season while recovering from cardiac arrest and heart surgery and looked like a shell of himself as he tried to get back into game shape and adjust to a new system and teammates. The Trojans finished with a disappointing 15-18 record with no one really playing well all season.

When Bronny declared for the draft, many voiced their opinions on social media, saying he should return to school, he’s not ready and he’s only being considered because of who his dad is. LeBron has said numerous times that he wants to end his career playing alongside his son, which drew deeper criticism of Bronny’s game and added pressure for the 19-year-old.

“I obviously see everything that’s been thrown my way, but I just have to shrug it off,” Bronny said. “They haven’t seen what I’ve been through or anything like that, so I just continue to believe in myself and keep putting in the work.”

It would be one thing if he showed up to the combine, completely bombed on testing and continually got beat on the court, but that’s not happening. Bronny is competing at a high level and showing he’s coachable. Every scout and executive in the building can see how his game will translate to the NBA, regardless of who his dad is.

“Everything that follows my dad, people just try to link me with that and all the greatness he’s achieved and I haven’t done anything yet,” Bronny said. “So there needs to be that divide between Bronny and LeBron. I just want to let people know that my name is Bronny James and not being identified as LeBron James’ son.”

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