Shareef O’Neal, 22-year-old son of NBA Hall of Famer, Shaquille O’Neal, wants to follow is his famous pop’s footsteps, but it appears that dad isn’t too excited about it.
Like Father, Like Son
After doing a pre-NBA draft workout with the Los Angeles Lakers, Shareef said his dad didn’t want him to enter the 2022 NBA draft and stay in school instead. Despite his dad’s wishes, Shareef is going forward with this year’s NBA draft, which takes place tonight, June 23.
Dad Doesn’t Agree but the Two Will Get Past It
Shareef recently told ESPN, “We kind of bump heads about this process. He wanted me to stay in school. I wanted to better myself through this. He knows I’m working out with teams. But I’m not going to lie, we ain’t talked about this. I’m kind of just going through it. He didn’t do any pre-draft workouts; he just got straight on the Magic, so it’s a different grind. So, he didn’t want me to do this, and I know he probably doesn’t want me saying this, but sorry. We’re both grown, we’ll get past it.”
Shaq’s Advice: Stay in School
Shaq wants his son to stay in school and finish out his senior year at LSU, but Shareef is standing strong with his decision, telling reporters during the pre-draft workout with the Lakers, “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. It was right in front of my face. I’m not backing up from it. I’m going to go get it if I see it. That’s just how I’m built.”
Shareef has only played in 37 games in college since 2019 and averaged just 2.6 points per game. He also endured some health issues that set him back a bit. While at UCLA during freshman year, he underwent open heart surgery, and after transferring to LSU, his father’s alma mater, in 2020, he’s had to deal with multiple foot and ankle injuries. Despite all that, multiple NBA teams invited Shareef to pre-draft workouts.
Pre-Draft Workouts Have Happened
During his pre-draft workout interview, Shareef said, “Being cleared was right in front of me, being healthy was right in front of me, and I went for it. I’m not backing down from nobody. I know he’s an NBA legend, 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.”
Shareef, a power forward standing at 6’10 is often compared to his 7’1 father who played center. He participated in the G League elite prospect camp last month and isn’t backing down from tonight’s draft, claiming college isn’t offering enough opportunity and the prospect of the draft lit a fire in him to follow his dreams. While the Lakers don’t hold any picks in tonight’s draft, they’ve still hosted multiple draft workouts in the past few weeks to see what the prospects can do up close. They hope to be able to buy a pick tonight and are interested in picking up undrafted talent according to ESPN.
No Pressure from His Father’s Legacy
When Shareef was asked if he felt any pressure due to his father’s legacy, he responded, “I went through some things that he didn’t go through. He was the number one pick in the draft. I kind of had to grind to get here. I had to grind a lot. I had to go through some stuff these past four years – foot injuries, heart surgeries – and I don’t really look to be in his shadow.”
Tonight is the Night
The NBA draft takes place tonight at 8 pm from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, home of the Brooklyn Nets. This is the ninth straight in-person NBA draft held at Barclays Center. The first round of the draft can be viewed on ABC and ESPN and the second round will be on just ESPN.