Five-star junior Shareef O’Neal, the son of NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, has committed to play for Coach Sean Miller at the University of Arizona.
O’Neal, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Crossroads School in Santa Monica, California, is a top 20 player in the ESPN rankings for the class of 2018.
Throughout his recruitment, UCLA, USC, and Kentucky were involved, as well as his father’s alma mater, LSU.
“This is sort of deja vu to me,” Shaquille O’Neal said on ESPN at the Hoophall Classic in January about his son’s recruitment. “My father never said you should do this, you should do that. So I’m gonna let him make his decision. LSU, Kentucky, Arizona. He’s getting a lot of letters. A couple of weeks ago, he got his book with all his letters, I got my book with all my letters. It’s a great feeling. But I’m gonna let him make the final decision.”
Sean Miller and Arizona now have two five-star prospects committed for the 2018 class, with O’Neal joining five-star wing Emmanuel Akot. Miller has recruited a top-seven class in seven straight seasons, and is now in good position to make it eight.
O’Neal’s high school teammate, Ira Lee, a four-star power forward, will be playing at Arizona next year, and there’s no doubt Lee played a role in O’Neal’s recruitment.
During the Hoophall Classic, O’Neal spoke to Shawn McFarland of USA Today about his relationship with Lee, and his recruitment (at the time) with Arizona.
“Ira, that’s like my big brother. I’ve always looked up to him,” O’Neal said. “He’s a very hyped person, he gets me going in the game. I think his main focus is to help me, because he’s already signed to Arizona, he’s just making sure I’m going on a good route. We’re like two peas in a pod, it’s like my best friend and also my big brother.”
O’Neal touched on Lee’s in-house recruitment of him to Airzona.
“[Lee] mentions it to me all the time, he’s like, ‘Arizona they want you,’ and I talk to the coaches a lot,” O’Neal said. “That was the last visit I went on, and I like the school a lot. They treat me like family over there.”
Arizona values O’Neal’s versatility, and his ability to handle the rock.
“They said, ‘We noticed that your game, you play more like a guard,’ and they said it was like something they’d never seen before,” O”Neal explained. “A 6-10 guy like me shooting and running the floor like a guard does. They said that’s the first thing they were interested in.”
Wildcat fans will have to wait two years to see the dynamic duo of Lee and O’Neal reunite on the court. So for now, here’s a recent video of O’Neal nearly ending an opponent’s career on the AAU circuit.
— IN THE LAB (@TEN000HOURS) April 10, 2017