UCLA freshman Shareef O'Neal will miss 2018-19 season, undergo heart surgery

UCLA freshman Shareef O'Neal, the son of Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal, will miss the 2018-19 season because of a recently discovered heart problem. UCLA put out the following statement with regard to his health on Friday:

"Freshman Shareef O'Neal will be sidelined for the 2018-19 season (medical). He will remain enrolled in class and on the men's basketball team during this redshirt year. The UCLA men's basketball program completely supports Shareef and his family as he gets this issue resolved."

According to TMZ Sports, O'Neal underwent a routine checkup recently when UCLA's medical staff found a medical issue related to his heart. He's expected to undergo surgery to correct the issue.

"Thank God the UCLA medical staff caught it early," O'Neal told TMZ. "During rehab, I'll be attending my classes and being a normal student. ... I'll be back in no time."

O'Neal was one of five top-100 signees for UCLA in its 2018 signing class, and was expected to make an early impact for the Bruins. A 6-foot-9 power forward, he brings a smooth outside game, versatile defense and two-way ability for the Bruins.

"We love the length and height of this year's team, and Shareef is really going to add to that dynamic," UCLA coach Steve Alford said last month. "He has a terrific frame, one that will allow him to continue improving on both sides of the floor. With Shareef, you're talking about a hard-working young man with tremendous upside, and his presence in our team's frontcourt is a significant addition."  

UCLA is currently ranked No. 18 in the CBS Sports Top 25 (and one) and has a chance, behind talented five-star freshman Moses Brown, to advance to the NCAA Tournament next season for the fifth time in the past six years. 

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