December 4, 2023

LOS ANGELES — USC basketball coach Andy Enfield said guard Bronny James is “doing very well,” but the team went through its first practice of the season without the highly touted freshman.

James, who will turn 19 next week, was not with the team on Monday, and Enfield did not give an update on a potential return for James, who suffered cardiac arrest during a workout on July 24.

“Bronny’s doing very well,” Enfield said after practice at USC. “But we just can’t comment on anything medically. He’s going to class and doing extremely well in school, and we’re really excited for him.”

James, the son of Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A. and released three days after the cardiac arrest. The James family released a statement last month explaining that a congenital heart defect was the probable cause of the guard’s cardiac arrest and that the heart defect can be treated. The James family said it was confident in Bronny making a full recovery and a return to the court in the near future.

“He’s around when he can be,” Enfield said of James on Monday. “And he’s getting caught up [with] some schoolwork and doing very well. His grades are excellent right now, and he’s being the true student-athlete.”

USC transfer forward DJ Rodman, son of former NBA rebounding champion Dennis Rodman, said he and his teammates were shaken when James experienced cardiac arrest during the workout. But Rodman said it wasn’t long before James was back up, feeling better and cracking jokes.

“He’s just a very positive guy, and every time I see him, it’s just a big smile and a ‘What’s up?'” said Rodman, who noted how he has seen two other friends suffer cardiac arrest.

“I’m just so relieved that [it] was not anything more severe than that. I mean it was just very, I wouldn’t say traumatizing, but it was a huge hit on [us], and I had to run out [of the gym]. I couldn’t handle another one like that.

“It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter how invincible you think you are. It could happen to anyone. And I know I’m not taking anything for granted. I know Bronny never took anything for granted. And I’m just happy that he’s great.”

The Trojans basketball team has experienced a player suffering cardiac arrest for two consecutive summers. Sophomore big man Vincent Iwuchukwu was hospitalized after suffering cardiac arrest on July 1, 2022. He returned to action in January, playing in 14 games.

“It really caught us all by surprise,” fifth-year USC guard Boogie Ellis said of James’ cardiac arrest. “And we [were] really hurt by it. But I’m glad that he’s doing well. I’m glad to see him OK. And Vince is a fighter, too. So glad to see him healthy and geared up to get back in there with us.”

While Enfield did not give any timetable on when James can return to the court, the coach and his players are excited for the guard to resume playing again.

“We anticipate him being a very valuable part of our basketball team,” Enfield said. “But that’ll be all sorted out. He’s the ultimate teammate because he cares about winning, and he has such a personal relationship with all his teammates. When you watch him on the court and you’re around them, that’s the first thing you notice within five or 10 minutes — and it’s contagious.

“So that’s why we’ll miss that here until he gets back. But he’s certainly a big part of our team.”

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