Bronny, future Pac-12 stars show out at Nike Hoops Summit

The Moda Center played host to top high school prospects in the West


Courtesy of Colin Hass-Hill

LeBron “Bronny” James Jr.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor

Every year around this time, the Moda Center plays host to the Nike Hoop Summit, an exhibition game between the top high school basketball players. The teams are split between USA and World, with the top international talent coming from as far as Senegal or China.

Most years, the very top recruits do not end up attending, typically satisfied with their stock and already committed to whatever big schools or professional teams they will be playing for as they prepare for the NBA draft. This year is certainly a weird one, as the highest-profile recruit is not even top 10 in rankings, and he showed up to play.

That player, of course, is LeBron “Bronny” James Jr. out of Sierra Canyon High School. Heir to a nearly unmatchable legacy, Bronny is one of the most famous high school players since, well, his dad. A 6-foot-3 defensive-minded guard, James Jr. is a four-star recruit in the class of 2023.

One of the schools reported to be recruiting James is Oregon. The only Pac-12 school in the running, Oregon’s basketball program had a massive number of fans present for the game, which took place just a two-hour drive from the Eugene campus. James was getting cheers so loud from Oregon fans that you would think he had committed already, and people all over the stadium could be heard screaming his name.

Despite all of this fanfare and mystique, James did not get the loudest cheers that night in Moda. Those were reserved for Portland’s own Jackson Shelstad, a point guard who has been the subject of much buzz in Oregon as he showed out in high school and committed to play for the Ducks back in 2021.

Unfortunately, no future Cougs were rostered for either team in this game, but future Pac-12 talent on the level of Shelstad or potentially James is worth talking about.

Both players had good games, with Shelstad leading the team in +\- with 16 and Bronny coming in second with 15. 

Shelstad only ended up with eight points, but he led the offense to their most productive minutes. Meanwhile, Bronny ended up with 11 points and was taking the hardest defensive assignments all game. His hustle and defensive impact were obvious, and he spoke after the exhibition on this aspect of his game.

“I just like to play defense the hardest I can,” James said. “I really take pride in playing defense and I feel like all the next level coaches are going to take that into consideration when they are recruiting me.”

His defense will no doubt be invaluable to whoever he ends up playing for, Pac-12 or not.

The World team had a Pac-12 prospect of their own as well. Andrej Stojaković, son of former NBA star Peja Stojaković, balled out on the World team, scoring 12 points and adding four rebounds and a block.

 Andrej is a five-star prospect who committed to Stanford after playing his high school ball at Jesuit in Sacramento, California. He represented Greece at the Summit, and showed how his 6-foot-7 height and great handle that got him a spot in the game. 

Stanford is needing a shot of life, and Andrej Stojaković could be it. He has a better athletic profile than his father, who was an All-Star. He will be in the running for Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.

While these are only a few of the faces the Cougs will be vying with for a March Madness spot next year, they are some of the most notable. Of course, Bronny to Oregon is by no means a sure thing, but the other two will almost certainly be stars in their own right. The Pac-12 is never easy, and with these guys on the way it may just be getting even harder.