LaVar Ball says Bronny James should snub college, follow LaMelo’s path and play in Australia’s NBL

By | March 27, 2023

LeBron James’ eldest son, Bronny, is set to make a big decision regarding his basketball future as he weighs his next steps ahead of making the leap to the NBA in the 2024 Draft.

Ranked as a four-star recruit by 247 Sports following his senior high school season at Sierra Canyon, Bronny has a number of college offers to choose from. The LA Times’ Luca Evans has reported USC, Ohio State and Oregon as his “three top schools.”

With his all-around improvement and status as arguably the best perimeter defender in his class, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has the 18-year-old projected as a top-10 pick in his latest 2024 NBA Mock Draft.

MORE: Bronny James’ NBA Draft stock reaches all-time high

With several routes to the league at his feet, including the G League Ignite and overseas, James will have the spotlight on him wherever he goes. But according to LaVar Ball, there is one option that stands out above the rest.

LaVar knows a thing or two about getting his sons to the NBA and the larger-than-life basketball dad believes following LaMelo’s path to Australia’s NBL is the best option for Bronny.

“It’s better over here. Why? Because you playing against grown men and you getting paid,” Ball told The Sporting News.

“If you want to play basketball and you really that dude, why am I sitting in class trying to pass a chemistry test? I don’t want to play no chemistry. I don’t want to practice no Spanish.

“I want to wake up, go practice, go back to sleep, go practice, have a game, practice. That’s all I want to do. 

“I don’t wanna be like ‘Hey, I’ll meet you in the student union for study hall.'” 

MORE: LeBron tweets that son Bronny is ‘definitely better’ than players he watched on NBA League Pass

The NBL has churned out a host of lottery picks via the Next Stars program, which offers players an alternate route to a one-and-done season in college, playing against seasoned veterans in a professional environment.

NBL players selected in NBA Draft
Player Year Draft selection NBL Team
Ousmane Dieng 2022 No. 11 (Knicks) New Zealand Breakers
Hugo Besson 2022 No. 58 (Pacers) New Zealand Breakers
Josh Giddey 2021 No. 6 (Thunder) Adelaide 36ers
LaMelo Ball 2020 No. 3 (Hornets) Illawarra Hawks
RJ Hampton 2020 No. 24 (Bucks) New Zealand Breakers

In recent years, Josh Giddey and Ousmane Dieng have joined the pipeline of NBL Next Stars to develop into lottery picks after one season in Australia, but neither experienced as big a leap as the youngest Ball brother. 

LaMelo arrived in Australia as a projected early second-rounder and left as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, becoming the highest-selected American player from an overseas league. He flourished in an environment that allowed him to showcase his talents that, perhaps, a collegiate system wouldn’t allow. 

While LaMelo and Bronny’s games aren’t that comparable, the media attention and superstar billing certainly are.

MORE: Grading Bronny James’ last Sierra Canyon high school game

“You’re going to have all these players in college trying to come out, [when] you can set your own stage across the water,” Ball added.

“He already got the name. He’s going to fill the gym up because two things happen when you’re young and you’re like that and your dad’s where he’s at.

“What made our crowds so big, the way I talk about my boys, a lot of people want to come to the gym to be like ‘he ain’t like that for real’ and then the other half want to support him,” Ball continued.

“So you’re going to get the haters and the supporters, that’s what makes for filled-up gyms.

“A lot of people want to see LeBron’s son do good and a lot of them want to say ‘he can’t play against no grown men.'”

In January, NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger confirmed the league had made inquiries about bringing Bronny to Australia. 

“We’ve certainly reached out to have the conversation. It wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up somewhere like Oregon, which coincides with the Nike headquarters and it’s a big Nike school,” Loeliger said.

“…But at the same time, Bronny, if you’re listening, we’re here mate. We’ll find a spot for you.”

Getty Images

Wherever Bronny goes, the bright lights will follow him. With some of the nation’s best college programs chasing his signature, taking his talents to the NCAA appears to be the most likely option. One that Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant, a former one-and-done star at Texas, says is the best move.

“There’s still some amazing talent in college right now. With so many different routes — the OTEs, going overseas, going to Australia — all that stuff is cool. But still, going to college, I feel like that’s a great route because it’s still on the big stage,” Durant said on his podcast.

Bronny James averaged 14.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 steals his senior season at Sierra Canyon High School and is set to compete in the McDonald’s All-American Game on March 28 (AEDT) in Houston.