Randy Belice/NBAE by way of Getty Images Shareef O’Neal
Shareef O’Neal, the 22-year-old son of basketball royalty Shaquille O’Neal, is one step nearer to his dream of enjoying within the NBA.
O’Neal signed a six-figure contract to play for the Nevada-based G League Ignite subsequent season, The Athletic reported Monday. O’Neal confirmed the signing on his personal social media, writing “VEGAS LETS DO IT!! Thank you Ignite,” on Twitter.
The developmental Ignite workforce is a productive subsequent step for O’Neal, who struggled to maintain up with high draft picks throughout his summer season league debut with the Los Angeles Lakers.
According to The Athletic, a number of groups across the league had been “intrigued” with O’Neal’s “athleticism and pedigree all through” the pre-draft and summer season league schedule final month. In his debut, O’Neal averaged 4.7 factors, 3.7 rebounds, and 10.9 minutes per sport.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images Shareef O’Neal
Based in Henderson, Nevada, O’Neal’s new workforce is a “first-of-its-kind workforce devoted to growing high younger prospects in preparation for the NBA Draft,” per their official web site.
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The program affords NBA hopefuls a program that “focuses on high-level competitors and accelerated on-court growth for gamers who’re starting their skilled careers.” Additionally, Ignite will provide athletes helpful coaching in areas comparable to monetary literacy and life abilities.
O’Neal’s future Ignite teammate, American-Ukrainian participant Pooh Jeter, welcomed the workforce’s latest participant on Twitter. “Yes Sirrr! Welcome to the household champ,” Jeter wrote. “Let’s do it,” O’Neal replied in a tweet.
In June, the 22-year-old athlete informed ESPN his father did not need him to enter the NBA draft. “He wished me to remain at school,” Shareef mentioned throughout a exercise with the Lakers, previous to summer season league. “He is aware of I’m understanding with groups. But I’m not going to lie, we’ve not talked about this. I’m sort of simply going by way of it.”
“I do know he in all probability does not need me saying this, however sorry. We’re each grown, we’ll get previous it,” Shareef informed ESPN, including that he wished to “higher himself by way of” pre-draft exercises with groups within the league.
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Prior to signing with the workforce, Shareef performed energy ahead for the LSU Tigers, the identical workforce his father performed for earlier than the Orlando Magic chosen him with the No. 1 decide within the 1992 NBA Draft. However, the aspiring NBA participant’s journey to the league has not been as seamless as his father’s was years in the past.
According to ESPN, Shareef averaged simply 2.9 factors and a pair of.1 rebounds in the course of the 2021-22 season at LSU. Comparatively, Shaquille averaged 21.6 factors and 13.5 rebounds for the Tigers throughout his time there.
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“I went by way of some issues that he did not undergo,” Shareef famous. “He was the No. 1 decide within the draft,” Shareef defined. “I sort of needed to grind to get right here. I needed to grind rather a lot. I needed to undergo some stuff these previous 4 years — foot accidents, coronary heart surgical procedures,” he revealed.
Ankle and foot accidents have plagued Shareef, whose well being has been a serious setback to his efficiency. As a freshman at UCLA, Shareef underwent open-heart surgical procedure to deal with an ailment in 2019. “He did not do any pre-draft exercises; he simply bought straight on the [Orlando Magic]so it is a completely different grind,” Shareef mentioned of his father’s journey to the NBA.
Shareef is embracing the “completely different grind” he is skilled in comparison with his father, telling ESPN, “I do not actually look to be in his shadow.”