Bronny James, Kiyan Anthony impress in high school showcase

CHATSWORTH, Calif. — Just minutes into Monday’s nationally televised event, Bronny James hooked the ball behind his head and darted to the basket for a fast break dunk, which he hammered home.

The throwdown was a fitting throwback to how his father, LeBron James, first stormed onto the stage with his signature “Akron Hammer” dunk. Monday’s Geico High School showcase between Sierra Canyon and Christ the King marked exactly 20 years to the day since the elder James made his national television debut.

Two decades ago, James’ St. Vincent-St. The Mary team won 65-45, with James scoring 31 points in an upset win over an Oak Hill Academy squad that was ranked No. 1 in the country at the time.

Monday saw the next generation of basketball hopes.

The younger James led the 25th-ranked Mustangs to a small loss to the 22nd-ranked Royals by a score of 62-51, finishing with 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals to lead Sierra Canyon 7-1 Season. Carmelo Anthony’s son Kiyan, a 6-foot-4 guard sophomore on Christ the King, finished the race with eight points.

Both displayed a tinge of skills that made their fathers future Hall of Famers. James was a blur on the open court, finishing an alley-oop pass with a two-handed dunk in the second half and making his presence felt on defense with a physical wing defense all night. Anthony displayed a fluid game and a smooth jump shot that connected on two wing three-pointers.

Isaiah Elohim, a junior guard, led Sierra Canyon by 17 points.

James, a senior guard, has yet to make a decision about his future in basketball. While his father was the No. 1 contender since he was a teenager and got into the NBA right out of high school, Bronny will be choosing between a range of NCAA scholarship offers or maybe the G League for his next step.

Even without a set path into the league, Bronny has already become a household name, signing Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deals with Nike and Beats by Dre. The lucrative support opportunities are a far cry from the scrutiny his father received for comparatively small opportunities to drive a Hummer and get throwback uniforms in his high school days.

Former Oak Hill coach Steve Smith, who flew to California to be with former standout Carmelo Anthony, said the increase in high school basketball hoops was attributed to the game against St. Vincent-St. Mary all those years ago.

“It really pushed high school basketball forward,” Smith told ESPN. “Everyone got to see LeBron. I don’t know how many people saw it, but I do know it was one of the most viewed [high school] Always play for his name.”

For Bronny, the name is not only associated with expectations, but also with attention.

The Sierra Canyon Gymnasium was full of star power on Monday. There was the expected basketball royalty, with LeBron and his wife Savannah sitting courtside and Carmelo and his wife La La there for their son. Scottie Pippen was also on hand for his son Justin Pippen, the 6-foot-2 junior Sierra Canyon guard.

Other courtside guests included Kim and Khloe Kardashian; radio host Big Boy; Kobe Bryant’s eldest daughter Natalia; former “Basketball Wives” actress Laura Govan; former NBA players Kenyon Martin, Nick Young and John Lucas III; and current Los Angeles Lakers Scotty Pippen Jr. and Cole Swider.

While Bronny and Kiyan have plenty of basketball ahead of them, Monday was also a reminder of how close their fathers are to the end of their careers.

The elder James and Anthony, who gave a long hug at halftime and chatted in midfield, were teammates with the Lakers last season, but Anthony remains a free agent and is looking for a team to sign with.

“I love the game, I can say that,” ESPN’s Anthony Malika Andrews said on the game’s broadcast. “But I realize that I don’t have many things under control. So I can just sit back and let it play and whatever it’s going to be, it’s going to be and I accept that. I’m ok with that.

“I’m cool… I can watch my kids… I can watch my son play, train him, be around him, go to his games. So these are the things I’ve had for a long time. I didn’t get a chance. So now I can be that father and the man I need to be. So I’m cool man. I would love to play, I love the game, I’m still in the gym every single day. When the opportunity presents itself, it presents itself, but it’s not something I press on. Bronny James, Kiyan Anthony impress in high school showcase

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