Brentaro Yamane | Layout/Multimedia Editor
Sept. 1, 2022
In the past five months, Duquesne’s athletic programs have been receiving more national publicity and are finding their way onto the map.
With Duquesne hosting 2022 NCAA Division Men’s Basketball Tournament games at PPG Paints Arena in March, announcing in April it will add three new varsity sports by fall 2024 and playing a nationally televised football game against Florida State last weekend, there is optimism that the school’s athletic programs are becoming more well-known nationwide.
And just when people thought they would stop hearing about Duquesne athletics, the men’s basketball staff did something that no other institution has done: They offered a scholarship to 15-year-old Bryce James, the son of NBA superstar LeBron James.
Duquesne’s men’s basketball Head Coach Keith Dambrot coached LeBron for two years at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in LeBron’s hometown of Akron, Ohio.
Bryce’s offer came nearly four months after Duquesne hired Dru Joyce III, a high school teammate of LeBron’s, to join the staff as the associate head coach. Even though Bryce played as a freshman on the junior varsity team last year at Sierra Cannon High School in California.
Some people might think that Duquesne offering Bryce is a marketing tactic, and whether it is or not, it is genius. Media outlets are talking about Duquesne because the men’s basketball staff took a chance and became the first school to offer a scholarship to Bryce, even though it’s likely that he’ll receive an abundance of offers from higher-level programs.
A lot of people might think that Bryce won’t attend college because LeBron jumped straight to the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 2003. When it comes to players wanting to play in the NBA, they have to wait until they are 19 years old, or they have to play at least one year of college basketball.
However, it remains unknown what LeBron wants for his son and what Bryce wants for himself. There is no harm for someone to want to further his or her education, and maybe college will afford him opportunities that jumping straight to the NBA wouldn’t.
Before Bryce is eligible for the NBA, maybe he’ll consider joining Duquesne to increase his own draft stock, while also helping his dad’s old head coach achieve success.
Something to note about Bryce’s offer from Duquesne is that the staff offered him before offering Bronny James, LeBron’s oldest son. Bronny is entering his senior year of high school and has consistently shown that he can play at a high level on varsity and AAU teams. Bronny has not announced anything regarding potential scholarship offers.
Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Duquesne to offer Bronny before Bryce? Maybe there’s something that the men’s basketball staff knows that other people don’t when it comes to Bronny’s post-high school graduation plans.
If no other schools offer Bryce, people might start to think it was just a way for Duquesne to market itself, knowing that he will not actually go to college. But if other colleges offer him, then it might become more possible that Bryce is considering college.
Some people might think it was unnecessary to offer Bryce because he is young and hasn’t played at the varsity level yet, but it was simply normal what Duquesne did. A lot of schools offer athletes at a young age.
This isn’t the first time that a Duquesne athletic team has offered someone at a very young age. Back in February 2020, the women’s basketball team offered Karis Thomas, a Washington, Penn., native. At the time of the offer, she was only in sixth grade. This school year, she will be a freshman in high school. In February 2015, the team also offered Mackenzie Amalia, who currently plays at Robert Morris. At the time of the offer, she was in seventh grade and enrolled at Blackhawk School District.
Bryce getting the offer puts Duquesne on the map when it comes to recruiting and increased publicity, and there’s really no harm. If he doesn’t attend the school, Dambrot looks elsewhere.
If he does choose to come to Duquesne, then Dambrot will have recruited a promising talent that has the potential to take the program to heights it hasn’t seen in a long time.
The decision is still a ways away.