Shareef O'Neal reflects on Summer League, starts professional basketball journey
July 18, 2022
Despite his relatively unknown status, Shareef O'Neal, the son of Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal, could still capture the attention of his high school basketball fans as he neared his graduation.
Shaq's rise to fame in the NBA following his draft to the Orlando Magic was inevitable for most people. However, Shareef's story is different. He was a young man who had no idea what he was getting into when he first started playing basketball.
Despite his impressive potential, Shareef had to deal with his greatest obstacle during his college basketball career which is an abnormal heart condition. He had to undergo open-heart surgery to fix a problem with his right coronary artery. He only played 132 minutes during his college basketball career.
Playing at Summer League
In the Summer League, Shareef has been playing at a similar level to his college averages. In two games, he had nine points and seven rebounds while playing over 19 minutes. In three games, Shareef has been averaging 4.3 points and four boards.
Although Shareef’s numbers aren’t too shabby, they don’t carry as much weight compared to the qualitative evaluation of prospects.
In his first few Summer League games, Shareef looked like an amateur basketball player who doesn’t have the necessary physical capabilities to handle the fast-paced and physical nature of professional basketball. NBA Twitter had a field day with his mediocre performance.
Despite his early struggles, Shareef has been around professional basketball for only 22 years, and he underwent open-heart surgery three years ago.
During the Lakers' second game in Las Vegas, Shareef showed flashes of his old skills. He used to be regarded as an amateur athlete who could make plays in all kinds of highlight roles.
After the game, Shareef said that he was able to get more reps than he did in college. He paused to think about how this experience would affect his future. The young athlete noted that he didn't get as many chances to play in college.
Shareef said that he was able to improve his game because of the training sessions that he participated in. He also noted that he was learning a lot. He said that he was able to do everything right during the game.
“They kick out guys to learn,” Shareef said on his improved game. “I learn a lot every time I go on stage. I’m learning a lot and showing more and more every day. I can’t wait to see what the future holds, but I have to take it one day at a time. I feel like I did everything right tonight.”
Shaq doesn't want Shareef to join big league yet
Shareef's journey to big league wasn't an easy road. He had to transfer to various colleges before his Summer League debut.
Shareef then decided to enter the 2022 NBA draft. He said his father didn't like the decision he made.
After participating in a pre-draft training session with the Los Angeles Lakers, Shareef opened up about his father's disapproval of his decision to enter the league.
The young athlete revealed that his father had mixed feelings about his decision to enter the league. Shaq wanted him to stay in school and improve his skills, while he also knew that Shareef could train with professional teams.
"He didn't want me to do that and I know he probably doesn't want me to say that, but sorry. We're both grown, we'll get over it," said Shareef.
After playing five games for the Lakers, Shareef's confrontation with Shaq became the main backdrop for his professional career.