CHATSWORTH, Calif. -- Mere minutes into Monday's nationally televised event, Bronny James cocked the ball behind his head and zoomed to the hoop for a fast-break dunk that he hammered home.
The throwdown was an appropriate throwback to how his father, LeBron James, first burst onto the scene with his signature "Akron hammer" dunk. Monday's Geico High School Showcase between Sierra Canyon and Christ the King marked 20 years to the day since the elder James made his national television debut.
Two decades ago, James' St. Vincent-St. Mary team won 65-45, with James scoring 31 points in the upset victory over an Oak Hill Academy squad that was ranked No. 1 in the country at the time.
The next generation of basketball hopefuls was on display Monday.
The younger James led the 25th-ranked Mustangs to a minor upset of the 22nd-ranked Royals by a score of 62-51, finishing with 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals to lift Sierra Canyon to 7-1 on the season. Carmelo Anthony's son, Kiyan, a 6-foot-4 sophomore guard on Christ the King, finished with eight points.
They both showed flashes of the skills that made their fathers future Hall of Famers. James was a blur in the open court, finishing an alley-oop pass with a two-handed dunk in the second half and making his presence felt on defense all night with a physical brand of wing defense. Anthony showed off a fluid game and a smooth jump shot, connecting on two wing 3-pointers.
Isaiah Elohim, a junior guard, led Sierra Canyon with 17 points.
James, a senior guard, has yet to make a decision on his basketball future. While his father was the presumptive No. 1 pick from the time he was a junior, entering the NBA straight out of high school, Bronny will choose between a slew of NCAA scholarship offers or perhaps the G League for his next step.
Even without a set path to the league, Bronny has already become a bit of a household name, signing name, image and likeness (NIL) deals with Nike and Beats by Dre. The lucrative endorsement opportunities are a long way from the scrutiny his father received for comparatively small potato opportunities to drive a Hummer and receive throwback uniforms in his high school days.
Former Oak Hill coach Steve Smith, who flew to California to be with former standout Carmelo Anthony, said that the growth of high school hoops can be traced to the game against St. Vincent-St. Mary all those years ago.
"It really pushed high school basketball," Smith told ESPN. "Everybody got to see LeBron. I don't know how many people watched it, but I know it was one of the highest-watched [high school] games ever just because of his name."
For Bronny, the name comes not only with expectations but attention.
Sierra Canyon's gymnasium was teeming with star power Monday. There was the expected basketball royalty, with LeBron and his wife, Savannah, sitting courtside, and Kiyan's mother, La La, and Carmelo there for their son. Scottie Pippen was also on hand for his son, Sierra Canyon's 6-foot-2 junior guard Justin Pippen.
Other courtside guests included Kim and Khloe Kardashian; radio host Big Boy; Kobe Bryant's eldest daughter, Natalia; former "Basketball Wives" cast member Laura Govan; former NBA players Kenyon Martin, Nick Young and John Lucas III; and current Los Angeles Lakers Scotty Pippen Jr. and Cole Swider.
While there is plenty of basketball ahead for Bronny and Kiyan, Monday also served as a reminder of just how close their fathers are to the end of their careers.
The elder James and Anthony, who shared a long embrace and chatted at midcourt during halftime, were teammates on the Lakers last season, but Anthony remains a free agent, looking for a team to sign with.
"I love the game, I will say that," Anthony told ESPN's Malika Andrews on the game broadcast. "But I realize there's a lot of things not in my control. So I can just sit back and let it play out and whatever it's going to be, it's going to be, and I accept that. I'm at peace with that.
"I'm cool ... I get to watch my kids ... I get to watch my son play, train him, be around him, go to his games. So these are the things that for a long time I haven't had a chance to do. So now I can be that father and the man I need to be. So I'm cool, man. I would love to play, I love the game, I'm still in the gym every single day. If the opportunity presents itself, it presents itself, but it's not something I'm pressing about."