After three relatively unsuccessful seasons at the collegiate level, Shareef O’Neal, son of Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal, is ready to make the NBA leap. The LSU forward decided to forego his final year of NCAA eligibility, working out for the Hawks, Wizards, Cavaliers and the team his father led to three championships, the Los Angeles Lakers, among other pre-draft visits. While O’Neal thinks he made the right decision going pro, his father wasn’t on board with it, at least initially.
“He wanted me to stay in school,” O’Neal expressed to Jenna Lemoncelli of the New York Post. “It sucks that he didn’t like that idea, but I’m a grown man. I’m 22 years old. I can make my own decisions.”
After beginning his career at UCLA, O’Neal transferred to his father’s alma mater, LSU, in hopes of more playing time. Instead, injuries limited him to just 24 games over his two-year stint in Baton Rouge. Even when he played, the younger O’Neal was ineffective, averaging just 2.8 points per game. O’Neal entered the transfer portal in March, receiving interest from Memphis, Texas Southern and Jackson State before declaring for the draft.
“We kind of bumped heads about this process,” Shaq admitted while attending his son’s workout with the Lakers earlier this week. While the elder O’Neal was drafted first overall in 1992, Shareef is unlikely to hear his name called Thursday night, though he could see action in the G League or perhaps garner an invite to the Las Vegas Summer League on a tryout basis.
“I felt like in college I wasn’t getting enough opportunity,” said Shareef, who underwent heart surgery as a freshman in 2019. “I know he’s my dad, but it was right in front of me, I had to go get it. So, if he likes it or not, it’s not really going to stop me from doing what I want to do.”