Kobe Bryant is in his final year with the Los Angeles Lakers, which means the team's fan's search for the next face of the franchise has already begun. Will it be D'Angelo Russell? How about Julius Randle, or even Jordan Clarkson?
The next superstar could theoretically be one of those players, or it could be a player not on the team yet. Instead of sugarplums dancing in their heads, Lakers fan's dreams are filled with purple and gold tinged Kevin Durant scoring binges or Al Horford post work.
If the team isn't able to snag a big fish in free agency this summer and is lucky enough to retain their draft pick, one possible next cornerstone could be found at the top of the draft, where Ben Simmons of LSU and Brandon Ingram of Duke have waged a year-long battle to be the number one selection.
Bryant himself decided to check out the latter's game on Thursday night, a Blue Devil's 82-68 loss to the Oregon Ducks. Still, Kobe had to like some of what he saw from the freshman phenom Ingram, who scored 24 points on 20 shots to go with five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block in the loss.
While Bryant doesn't have a say in who the Lakers will eventually pick, this could be looked back on as a cool passing of the torch moment if the Lakers keep their pick and select Ingram. Or it could be nothing. One of the two.
Anyway, here is Kobe and his wife Vanessa heading into the Duke fan section:
And Ingram wasn't even the only top prospect Bryant checked out on Thursday night. He chatted and took a selfie with Buddy Hield of Oklahoma:
Buddy Hield talking to Kobe Bryant, posing for a pic pic.twitter.com/oXoJK2Wa7d— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) March 25, 2016
Pretty fun stuff from a player who says he doesn't plan to watch much basketball in retirement.
All stats per ESPN.com. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.