LOS ANGELES — Andy Enfield understands the magnitude of his task this fall as the head coach at USC, where Bronny James — the eldest son of LeBron James — will play. But he does not feel the NBA superstar hovering as he does his job.
LeBron and his wife, Savannah, have been “extremely supportive” of their son’s decision to join the Trojans for the 2023-24 season, Enfield recently told ESPN exclusively at his home in Los Angeles.
“Well, Savannah and LeBron have been extremely supportive of Bronny and his decision to come to USC,” Enfield said. “They have a great understanding of what it takes to become a great player. I think the expectations — there are certainly expectations — but the expectations are not unreasonable as parents. They want what most other parents want. They want their son to come get an education, develop on the basketball court, play with other good players and to have a coaching staff that can help them develop and help him become a better player. We think, as coaching staff, LeBron and Savannah have a great understanding of what it’s going to take for Bronny to be a great college player and get to the next level.”
Bronny, a four-star prospect who is ranked 19th in the 2023 class on ESPN.com, will join a roster that’s stacked with talent and capable of reaching the NCAA tournament. Isaiah Coller, the No. 1 prospect in the 2023 class on ESPN.com, is expected to be the starting point guard next to veteran Boogie Ellis, who averaged 17.7 PPG last season. Kobe Johnson (9.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG) could have a breakout season and DJ Rodman, son of former Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman, will arrive from Washington State as a key transfer.
Enfield said Bronny’s high basketball IQ, skill set and defensive tools will allow him to compete for significant minutes in his rotation.
When Enfield first saw Bronny, he said he thought he would fit at the collegiate level because he was a great teammate who always elevated his team. He is also surrounded by key players who will allow him to mature as a player without the burden of immediately playing a substantial role.
“All our guards have a great opportunity to play for us because we don’t have a ton of guards,” Enfield said. “We don’t have eight or nine. We have some opportunity for those guys to carve out a nice role for them, and in Bronny’s case, we don’t promise starting spots, but the nice thing is I think all of our guards will play good minutes for us this year.”
Bronny led Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, California) to a 23-11 record as a senior. His father has been open about his desire to play with him in the NBA, which has elevated the scrutiny around Bronny prior to what could be his first and only collegiate season.
“The spotlight is going to be on our players, but rightly so. As a coaching staff, we want our players to have that spotlight, the opportunity to be seen, for people to appreciate their talents and how they interact with each other and how good of a team we could be,” Enfield said. “So the spotlight will help our players. I also think the environments we’re going to play in, at home and on the road, that’s what college basketball is all about.”
Few coaches have ever faced a situation with a superstar athlete competing a few miles from where his son will begin his collegiate career. The Galen Center, USC’s home floor, is exactly 2 miles from Crypto.com Arena, home of the Lakers. But Enfield said he’s prepared for that pressure, but more importantly, Bronny is ready for it.
“It’s so refreshing to see a young man deal with all the celebrity status of his dad but be such a humble young man,” Enfield said. “And when he gets on the basketball court, he’s a great teammate. We recruited Bronny because we think he’s a great fit for our basketball program as a player and the type of person he is.”