Bronny James’ commitment to USC basketball is already positively impacting the Trojans’ athletic department.
Bronny, the son of LeBron James, was one of the final prized recruits to make his college decision. Now, the USC athletic department is cashing in by raising ticket prices ahead of the 2023-24 basketball season.
USC chief marketing officer and associate athletic director Craig Kelley spoke with ESPN about the potential price hike at basketball games this season.
“I know it’s going to be hard to believe, but with or without Bronny, the prices were more than likely going to go up by a few percentage points just because that’s just the nature of the business,” Kelley said. “Most teams are increasing their prices 2% to 3% annually. We’ve actually been flat for quite some time, and so we were going up in price just because the team has just gotten better. And you do add some notable name players.”
How Will Bronny Impact USC Basketball Attendance?
Despite bringing in a star-studded recruiting class, none of those players have a name as notable as James.
According to On3, James has the highest NIL valuation in all of college sports at $6.8 million, double the next-highest athlete (LSU’s Livvy Dunne) and nearly five times that amount of the next-highest basketball player (Northwestern State’s Hansen Enmanuel).
Last season, an average of 4,021 fans attended USC basketball home games in 2022, which ranked near the bottom of the PAC-12. For comparison, crosstown rival UCLA averaged 9,276 fans at their 17 home games in 2022, more than double that of the Trojans. In fact, only four PAC-12 schools (California, Washington, Oregon State, & Stanford) had a lower average attendance at basketball games in 2022-23 than USC.
However, that is expected to change in 2023, with the arrival of Bronny James expected to make USC basketball games among the hottest tickets in LA.
What Will Bronny James’ Role Be At USC?
Head coach Andy Enfield will have a difficult task on his hands at USC this season. All eyes will be on how USC handles Bronny’s development and playing time. However, there isn’t a clear path for James to start on Day 1.
James will be joined in the Trojans’ backcourt by another highly-touted freshman guard, Isaiah Collier, ESPN’s No. 1 overall recruit in the 2023 class. A guard from Wheeler High School, Collier averaged 20.2 points, 6.8 assists, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.3 steals en route to winning the Georgia 7A State Championship.
Collier is projected to start alongside senior guard Boogie Ellis, who averaged 17.2 points per game last season while shooting 38.6 percent from 3-point range.
That means that Bronny might have to start his college career as a sixth man, coming off of the bench.
Enfield seemed to echo that sentiment but did mention that all of USC’s guards will have a chance to log significant playing time next season.
“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.”
A knockdown shooter and a strong defender that plays with a high IQ on both ends of the floor, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see James carve out a role off of the bench as a freshman.