A chip off the ol’ Shaq is now a Tiger

Photo courtesy of LSU Sports Information

It’s official. There’s new O’Neal in the LSU men’s basketball program.

Shareef O’Neal, son of legendary former LSU star and Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer, has signed with the Tigers after transferring from UCLA. 

After sitting out the 2018-19 season with a medical issue, the 6-9 O’Neal averaged 2.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and almost 11 minutes per game in 13 games as a redshirt freshman for the Bruins this past season. He announced in January his decision to transfer.

His best game for UCLA was in December against Notre Dame when he scored eight points, grabbed 11 rebounds and played excellent defense in 17 minutes.

“When I played defense in high school, I was so much taller than everyone that it would just be kinda easier to play and block shots,” O’Neal told the Los Angeles Times. “But in college, everyone is my height, more skills, stronger, so I have to learn how to use my body to defend bigger players, even faster players. We switch on the guard sometimes, so I have to learn how to guard every position.”

O’Neal was ranked in the top 30 in his high school class by ESPN.com. He averaged 27.6 points and 17.3 rebounds per game during his 2017-18 senior season at Santa Monica (Calif.) Crossroads School. Crossroad won the CIF Division II state title. O’Neal had 29 points and 17 rebounds with five blocked shots in the state championship contest.

He was a member of the All-CIF Southern Section Division II team and the John Wooden Player of the Year for Division II in California. He was listed on the Los Angeles Times All-Area team as a senior and a first team all-state selection by MaxPreps.com.

O’Neal originally committed to Arizona before switching and signing with UCLA. Just as he was starting his college career, he said he “felt funny” during practices. He was diagnosed with an anomalous coronary artery, a congenital heart defect that causes an artery to grow in the wrong place. He underwent open-heart surgery to repair.

O’Neal has petitioned the NCAA to waive its transfer rule which requires transfers to sit out a season as a redshirt.

“The name O’Neal is a part of LSU basketball history and we look forward to Shareef starting his own path at LSU,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “Shareef has the ability to impact a game with his tremendous offensive rebound acumen and his ability to stretch the defense with his shot.”

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Ron Higgins

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