Oregon already has a top-10 recruiting class for the 2023 cycle. The Ducks have commitments from 5-star wing Mookie Cook, 5-star forward Kwame Evans Jr., and 4-star point guard Jackson Shelstad. Pretty good haul for coach Dana Altman.

Well, it might soon get better.

According to On3 Sports’ Jame Shaw, the Ducks have emerged as the front-runner to land Bronny James, a 4-star shooting guard in the class and the son of a rather famous professional basketball player. Shaw puts the likelihood at 50% for the Ducks to earn a commitment from James, who is also reportedly considering USC and Ohio State.

From Shaw’s report:

There are many ties between the James family and Oregon. The connections mostly center around Nike. Oregon is the flagship school for the Nike brand. LeBron James and Nike have done business together with SpringHill Company. And LeBron has signed a lifetime contract with Nike as an apparel brand. 

There is also a tie between Bronny James and Mookie Cook. The pair were travel teammates with the North Coast Blue Chips team in middle school. Cook also spent his summer playing a young LeBron James in a SpringHill Company-produced movie called Shooting Stars.

Shaw reported that James is expected to take his time in the recruiting process—scheduling virtual and in-person visits to make the best decision. It’s believed that Oregon is the team to beat in his recruitment.

After a recruitment that was essentially dark for months on end, reports about James’ college prospects have exploded in recent days.

There was an initial report from ESPN’s Paul Biancardi last Friday that James was expected to go the college route rather than signing with a developmental team like the G League Ignite and that he had heard from UCLA, USC, Oregon, Ohio State, and Michigan. That was followed up on Monday by a different report from Shaw that said neither Michigan nor UCLA were actively recruiting James, but that Oregon was and there was mutual interest.

Now, just a day later, that mutual interest has apparently turned to a likely partnership.

The interest in Ohio State and USC both make sense. LeBron James, an Ohio native and avid Buckeye fan, has said in the past that had he gone to college instead of jumping straight to the NBA, he would have been a Buckeye. Now, LeBron plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, meaning if Bronny were to stay home, LeBron would have plenty of opportunities to watch his son play college ball.

Perhaps Oregon offers the best of both worlds. There’s the Nike angle, of course. But Oregon would allow Bronny to step out a bit—at least, as much as possible—from his father’s shadow and chart his own path. Eugene would certainly be closer than Columbus, but it would still be a degree or two removed from LeBron’s orbit. Maybe that’s important.

Or maybe Bronny just wants to play for a strong program, an established coach, and a winning team. Oregon checks a lot of boxes.