Major programs are hoping to get their hands on the kid for a “one-and-done” year before LeBron the Younger tries to join guys such as Domantas Sabonis, Glenn Robinson III and a slew of Rick Barry’s kids on the list of sons of NBA players to have their own runs in the big leagues.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has a connection to the James family via LeBron Sr.’s time spent playing for USA Basketball in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, which has led to speculation that Duke is on the shortlist for the services of the son of a player who went to the NBA directly out of high school in 2003.
Coach K was at a Nike event Saturday night, and ESPN’s SportsCenter shared the moment on its Twitter feed:
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 27, 2019
LeBron Sr. has gone on record as saying he’d love for Coach K to mentor his son, and Bronny has ranked highly among would-be future college prospects not just because of his name but because of his skills on their own merits.
Indeed, any major youth basketball event featuring marquee talent is going to attract the Mike Krzyzewskis and the John Caliparis and the Tony Bennetts of the world trying to get the best players to schools such as Duke, Kentucky and Virginia.
But at the same time, there are plenty of other wild-eyed rumors floating around Coach K’s appearance.
Besides Coach K’s responsibilities as a recruiter and coach at Duke, there’s the simple fact that the Los Angeles Lakers, where LeBron the Elder plies his basketball trade, have a coaching vacancy after firing Luke Walton following a dumpster-fire 37-45 season in 2018-19.
Rumors abound that the older LeBron would simply love to have his coach from those Olympic teams patrolling the Lakers sideline rather than Tyronn Lue — LeBron’s coach in Cleveland — or any of the other candidates reportedly under consideration for the job.
Of course, the chances of Krzyzewski leaving Duke for the Lakers, or any other NBA gig, are virtually nil. Plenty of teams with far more stable front offices and far better win-now talent have dangled a carrot and backed a dump truck full of money up to Coach K’s door in hopes of landing him, but the Duke coach has shown no interest in abandoning the college ranks.
So, any speculation that Coach K was at the game for any reason other than to scout Bronny James and possibly to catch up with a friend in LeBron Sr. is without verifiable basis in fact.
Likewise, any rumors floating around that Coach K, rather than Lue, Jason Kidd or Juwan Howard — the Lakers’ reported shortlist for their coaching position — is going to coach the team are similarly just rumors.
The bigger question on the board is whether LeBron James Jr. will play a minute of college basketball for Duke or anyone else.
Bronny was born Oct. 6, 2004. He is 14 years old and on track to graduate from high school in 2023.
By 2023, the NBA will be well into its next collective bargaining agreement, and it is widely speculated that the “one-and-done” rule will be gone as players regain the ability to go pro directly out of high school, as Bronny’s father did.
Even if Junior doesn’t go straight to the NBA, the G-League has been expanding its opportunities, paying players as much as $125,000 under a new pilot program to lure them from college basketball and let them develop their skills in a pro setting with NBA league support.
But the simple fact remains, Coach K attended a game featuring highly touted young basketball talent in his capacity as the coach of a college basketball program that signs such talent.
While the involvement of LeBron James and family may set the internet on fire, sometimes Occam’s razor is just a man having a shave.
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