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The unprecedented preparation for Bronny James’ arrival at USC

In 2019, Bronny joined his Sierra Canyon teammates at an event called Hoopfest in Dallas. The first day took place at a local high school, before the demand to see Bronny, just a freshman who came off the bench at the time, grew. That prompted organizers to move Sierra Canyon’s game the following day against local powerhouse Duncanville to American Airlines Center, where the Dallas Mavericks play. Scalpers showed up outside the arena, selling tickets to the high school game before tipoff. When a group of teenage girls tried to get a selfie with Bronny inside, a security team stepped in front of them and told them to move back. One of the girls seemed perplexed and another said, “Oh?” Surrounded by his traveling layer of protection, Bronny didn’t even seem to notice. He laughed with his friends as it all unfolded behind him. Perhaps a familiar scene in Hollywood, college basketball is not known for hosting players with individual security details. But that’s what Bronny will bring to USC. The school is already a football giant, starring quarterback Caleb Williams, who could become the second player in collegiate history to win the Heisman Trophy twice. Basketball is making waves, however, and not just because of Bronny. Juju Watkins, the No. 1 women’s basketball recruit in the country, arrives this fall, joining a list of stellar women’s players in school history, including Lisa Leslie and Cheryl Miller. Isaiah Collier, the No. 1 recruit in men’s basketball, and D.J. Rodman, who transferred from Washington State and is the son of Dennis Rodman, will play alongside Bronny next year.

Despite a run of five NCAA tournament appearances over the past eight seasons, including an Elite Eight run in 2021, men’s basketball has rarely enjoyed sellout crowds. The program averaged just 3,860 spectators at the 10,258-seat Galen Center during the 2021-22 season, per the most recently available data from the NCAA. This year, to contend with the star power, the school could create a separate entrance for celebrities and other VIPs who want to watch Bronny and USC men’s basketball. It also plans to adjust security measures for players as general attendance increases.


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