Shareef O'Neal was a somewhat unconventional NBA Draft prospect. While he was at one time a top high school recruit, he averaged just 2.6 points per game at the collegiate level for LSU and UCLA. That's not the sort of player that typically enters the draft early, but O'Neal, who still had eligibility left, did just that earlier this year. It wasn't a decision that his famous father, former Los Angeles Lakers great Shaquille O'Neal, agreed with.
"He wanted me to stay in school. I wanted to better myself through this," O'Nealduring the draft process. "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 [Orlando Magic], so it's a different grind."
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O'Neal ultimately went undrafted in June, and despite signing with the Lakers for Summer League, didn't wind up landing a contract for the season with an NBA team. However, he eventually made the best of the situation by landing with G League Ignite, and now, he says he and his father have patched things up.
"Once we came to an agreement, he got on my side," the younger O'Neal said in Las Vegas Monday. "He was like, 'You're my son. I'm going to support you no matter what.' He's helped me a lot through these past few months. I think it made us closer than ever. I feel like my whole family got even closer."
Shaq was the No. 1 pick in the 1992 NBA Draft. His path to stardom was smooth. His son is going to have to go the long way just to land in the NBA, but at the very least, he knows he has his father's support.