Shareef O’Neal is following in his father’s footsteps playing at LSU. Shareef started his college career at UCLA but ended up transferring to his father’s alma mater. Shaquille O’Neal had a remarkable career at LSU, and his son is looking to do the same. In his first year at LSU, Shareef’s jersey number has a special meaning to it.
Shareef will honor Kobe Bryant and his father with his jersey number, and when he posted a photo on social media, it received many reactions.
Shareef O’Neal became a notable player in high school
Shareef comes from a basketball family as his father, Shaquille, went on to have a Hall of Fame career in the NBA. He quickly established himself as one of the league’s top players early on in his career. Even though his father was a star in the NBA, Shareef did not originally like basketball. As a teenager, he began training regularly and started to develop a passion for the game.
During his freshman year of high school, he attended the Windward School in LA and was a member of the varsity team. He didn’t receive much playing time as a freshman because the team had a lot of seniors. Shareef only averaged 3.7 points and 2.9 rebounds after his freshman year. He started to gain attention from colleges and received his first scholarship offer from USC in 2015. Other offers came in after as he received offers from Baylor, UCLA, LSU, and Kansas State.
During his high school career, Shareef transferred to Crossroads School in Santa Monica and established himself as one of the country’s top high school players. He was a four-star recruit by ESPN, Rivals, and 247Sports. In April of 2017, he originally committed to Arizona, but he decommitted in 2018 after the allegations of Arizona coach Sean Miller allegedly paying Deandre Ayton. Shareef would later commit to UCLA, and that’s where he began his collegiate career.
Shareef was diagnosed with a heart condition during his time at UCLA
Before the 2018-19 season, Shareef wasn’t feeling right during team practices over the summer. So doctors decided to give him a heart monitor to wear. He was diagnosed with a right anomalous coronary artery and had to undergo open-heart surgery. Shareef made a full recovery and was eager to get back on the basketball court.
After redshirting his freshman season, he made his college debut during the 2019-20 season. Shareef appeared in 13 games coming off the bench for UCLA. After the 2019-20 season, he decided to transfer to LSU.
Shareef honoring his father and Kobe Bryant at LSU
For some players, jersey numbers have a significant meaning to them. That’s the case for Shareef. He chose to wear No. 32 at LSU. That’s a familiar number as his father wore that number for a period of time when he played in the NBA. The No. 32 also is the sum of eight and 24 added together. The two numbers that Kobe Bryant wore during his NBA career.
Shareef had a close relationship with Bryant, and he and Bryant were actually texting each other before Bryant passed away. In his first season at LSU, Shareef found a special way to honor both his father and Bryant.