USC’s Bronny James cleared to return to basketball 4 months after cardiac arrest

US

 Bronny James has been cleared by doctors for a full return to basketball four months after suffering a cardiac arrest, and the Southern California freshman is expected to make his collegiate debut soon.

A James family spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the 19-year-old will have a final evaluation with USC staff this week and resume practice next week. He will be able to play in games “soon after,” it said.

“What soon means, I don’t know,” coach Andy Enfield said after USC’s win over Eastern Washington on Wednesday night. “It’s not my decision.”

James didn’t participate in pregame warmups and he didn’t join his teammates on the bench until late in the first half of their 106-78 rout. He joked and smiled with the other reserves and he stood at the rear of the huddles during timeouts.

The Trojans (5-2) play No. 11 Gonzaga in Las Vegas on Saturday. Their next home game is Dec. 10 against Long Beach State, a day the Los Angeles Lakers are off, which could allow LeBron James to watch his namesake son’s debut. After that, the Trojans hit the road for four straight games.

USC fell out of the AP Top 25 poll this week after a two-point loss to Oklahoma last week.

“We didn’t anticipate half our team being hurt for the first 2 1/2 to 3 weeks of the season,” Enfield said, citing injuries to Boogie Ellis and Kobe Johnson. “Bronny’s been out and we have no guards left, we have very limited guards.”

While James will be a welcome addition to USC’s rotation, he’ll need time to acclimate to game action. He has been on the court for pregame warmups twice in recent weeks, doing some rebounding and taking shots but also watching his teammates. He’s also been at practices.

James need look no further than teammate Vincent Iwuchukwu for inspiration. The 7-foot-1 sophomore suffered a cardiac arrest in July 2022. He began limited practice last December and made his debut in January. He played in 14 games last season, averaging 5.4 points and 2.5 rebounds.

Iwuchukwu was the top player off the bench Wednesday night, with 13 points, six rebounds and two blocks.

James was found to have a congenital heart defect that was treatable. He suffered a cardiac arrest in July during a workout at Galen Center.

James was a McDonald’s All-American just like his father. The 6-foot-3 guard played at Sierra Canyon School in the Chatsworth section of Los Angeles and chose to stay close to home in picking USC.

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