Bronny James, son of NBA superstar Lebron James, has committed to play college basketball at the University of Southern California (USC) starting next season. Bronny James may be known to many as Lebron’s son, but he has made a name for himself on and off the court. On the court he is a star point guard at Sierra Canyon School in Los Angeles. Off the court, Bronny has a substantial social media following with 7.1 million followers on Instagram. Between having Lebron James as his father, being a successful young basketball player, and having a social media following, the name, image, and likeness (NIL) deal opportunities for Bronny James are likely to be endless.
Bronny is already going into USC with a few NIL deals under his belt. It was reported in October of 2022 that he signed NIL deals with both Beats By Dre and Nike as a senior in high school. In fact, Bronny James is the first high school athlete signed to a NIL deal with Beats By Dre. A majority of NIL deals for student athletes are focused on the college level and not as often seen for high school athletes. It is starting to become more popular for companies to seek out the high caliber high school players early on in their playing careers so as to get deals under contract with these young players before a competitor company beats them to it once they are headed to college.
One challenge this could present to the student athlete is the conflict of interest that may arise between deals they already have under contract or are considering and the NIL policy at the college they wish to attend. For example, USC has a NIL policy that “prohibits student-athletes from entering into NIL contracts that conflict with USC’s team contracts”. USC has a team contract with Nike so a student athlete may be prohibited from entering into any contracts that promote products or services that compete with Nike. Fortunately, Bronny is already under contract with Nike, but other high school athletes should consider the brand deals their potential college currently has in place when considering their own NIL deals.
The expectation is that Bronny will be at USC for one season and then will head to the NBA to play with or against his father. Other than the playing experience he will get at USC for that year, choosing this school also gives Bronny James the opportunity to expand on a market he has utilized since high school. By embracing the Los Angeles ties, the James family name, showcasing his talents, and utilizing his social media platform, Bronny James has the potential to be the highest paid athlete under NIL.