Bronny James staying in NBA draft, agent Rich Paul says

Hahn: Bronny is biggest name in draft, despite not being best player (1:55)

Alan Hahn reacts to Bronny James staying in the NBA draft and breaks down the teams that could select him. (1:55)

USC freshman guard Bronny James will remain in the 2024 NBA draft and forgo his remaining collegiate eligibility, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul told ESPN.

Hours ahead of the 11:59 p.m. ET NCAA deadline Wednesday, Paul told ESPN: "He's staying in the draft."

James, the No. 54 prospect in the ESPN 100, has had a strong pre-draft process and elevated his standing from fringe to draftable prospect. James, a son of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, declared for the draft and entered the transfer portal in early April. As expected, he has completed his college basketball career and turned his full attention to the NBA.

"Bronny's [draft] range is wide," Paul told ESPN. "He's a really good prospect who has a lot of room for growth. It only takes one team. I don't care where that team is -- it can be No. 1 or 58 -- [but] I do care about the plan, the development. The team's strategy, the opportunity and the financial commitment. That's why I'm not doing a two-way deal. Every team understands that."

Each NBA team has three two-way contracts in addition to 15 regular roster spots. Two-way deals limit players to 50 games on an NBA team's active list with a salary equal to half the rookie minimum ($580,000 in 2024-25). Two-way deals are often offered to second-round and undrafted prospects.

James, 19, tested as one of the fastest and most explosive athletes at the NBA draft combine in Chicago earlier this month, ranking second among 71 participants in two 3-point shooting drills. James also had 13 points in a combine team scrimmage.

He participated in a heavily attended pro day at the Lakers' practice facility last week, where he again demonstrated his highlight-reel explosiveness and improving perimeter shooting ability.

James enrolled at USC last summer coming off strong showings in the McDonald's All American Game and Nike Hoop Summit, but his freshman season was derailed by a July cardiac arrest episode that led to a procedure to treat a congenital heart defect. That sidelined him for nearly five months.

He made his college debut in mid-December and averaged 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 19.4 minutes per game. USC finished a disappointing 15-18 and near the bottom of the Pac-12 standings.

James was medically cleared to be drafted by the NBA's Fitness to Play Panel on the eve of the draft combine, sources told ESPN, allowing him to be a full participant in the week's on-court activities.

With a month until the June 26-27 NBA draft, Paul said he and his team are determining a strategy for which and how many team workouts to conduct.

"We're still figuring it out," Paul told ESPN. "Many teams have called. It's a matter of hashing out workouts and figuring out who is real and who is not. There are only two or three teams that might take him. That's how I am going to approach that."

Because he is LeBron James' son, there has been significant conversation around Bronny James ending up on the Lakers.

"The Lakers need to look at Bronny like everyone else," Paul told ESPN. "If they value him enough and he's there, that's great. If it's not the Lakers, that's great. I won't be mad if it's not. It's obvious that people hear the conversation around the dad and son playing together, but that's not our focus. If it happens organically, great. I'm not building on that.

"I'm not putting unrealistic expectations on Bronny. He's far from a finished product. But he has a hell of start. He's positioned well. ... I don't see him not getting drafted, but if it got to a point where the situations didn't make sense and we needed to go undrafted, that's fine."

As an undrafted player, James could sign a free agent contract with any team.

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service used by NBA, NCAA and international teams.