NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal's son Shareef O'Neal remains steadfast in playing professional basketball despite his dad telling him to stay in school and finish his education.
The 22-year-old ironically just worked with the Los Angeles Lakers, the same team where his dad built his legendary career. According to the younger O'Neal, his dad's feelings towards him entering the draft didn't matter because this was an opportunity he couldn't pass on.
No regrets, just pure risks
Shareef, who played for Louisiana State University, admits that he didn't develop into the best version of himself during college. True enough, O'Neal only averaged 2.9 points and 2.1 rebounds as he saw his minutes decrease in his third year with the team. Luckily, he got an invite from the NBA G-League, which gave the forward hope for a potential change in his career trajectory.
"It kind of made it a little scary for me. He's [Shaq] big on education and I felt like in college, I wasn't getting an opportunity. I wasn't feeling it, I wasn't feeling like myself. I got that invite to the G League, elite camp that opened a lot of doors for me. That really brought me back and showed me what I can do and then once I started getting calls from teams to work out, I was like 'man, this is what I want to do.' I'm here, it's right in front of me. Just go for it so I continue to work. But he didn't like that idea at all. It sucks he didn't like that idea but I'm a grown man. I'm 22 years old, I make my own decisions so you know, it was right in front of my face, I wasn't backing out from it. I'm going to get it if I see it so that's just how I'm built…." a determined Shareef said.
"I know he's an NBA legend, he's my dad but it's right in front of me, I had to go get it. Whether he likes it or not, that's not really going to stop me from doing what I want to do. Like I said, I want to play basketball, I want to get it, so I'm here," the younger O'Neal added.
What's the word on Shareef?
Unfortunately, several draft experts aren't as high on the son of the four-time NBA champion. Maybe it was because of how Shareef's collegiate career went, but draft analysts have said they don't expect him to get drafted this year. O'Neal's biggest upside is that he's a big skinny man who can score inside. But NBA teams these days want a stretch-five big who can make themselves useful on both sides of the floor.
However, there's still an avenue for O'Neal to make it to the league. If a team decides to offer him a two-way contract or assign him to their G-League affiliate, maybe Shareef can work his way up the ladder. One thing's for sure. His dad won't make any calls to get him a spot.