REDONDO BEACH, Calif. - Class of 2018 five-star Shareef O'Neal has had a junior year filled with ups and downs, but he seems to be hitting his stride heading into the High School California State basketball tournament. Shaquille O'Neal's son impressed at Redondo Union High School recently, hitting four threes and a few impressive dunks while finishing with 23 points.
He's still taping his right index finger after breaking it earlier this season but plans to be full strength by the start of AAU season.
"It still hurts pretty bad when I dunk but the adrenaline always kicks in and can’t really feel it until after the game," O'Neal said. "I’ll do my physical therapy and get it fixed for the summer. By AAU I’ll be full strength and ready to go."
IN HIS OWN WORDS
On the recruiting front, O’Neal is taking his time with the process and weighing all options. “The recruiting process is great. I still have the same schools and I haven’t made my final list yet,” O’Neal said. “I have the whole summer and plenty of time to figure things out and make some visits. Right now I’m just focused on finishing up my high school season.”
Arizona: "I've been to Arizona for an unofficial visit and the campus was great, the coaches treated us like family. I know they let their bigs shoot and play the perimeter and that's the kind of thing I like. My teammate Ira Lee is obviously going there, so he's been talking to me about the program."
UCLA: "They're close to home and I've been to a few of their games and really like their style of play. I watch TJ Leaf closely, who's my height and has an outside jumper as well, so I think I could be a good fit there. The coaching staff is great and have been out to see me a lot this season."
USC - "Like UCLA, they're close to home and I've been to a couple of their games. I know a couple of their players too like Bennie Boatwright and he's another big that can play the perimeter, so that's interesting to me."
Kansas - "Kansas came out to a practice earlier this season and have just been building a relationship with me and trying to get me to come out for a visit. They're a top team in the Big 12 and I like what they're about."
LSU - "Obviously my dad went there, so yeah they're still in the mix of things. They definitely want me to get down there for a visit and it's something I want to do with my dad, so we're just trying to work out a time that works."
Expect things to pick up once the first live period hits in April and more coaches can get out and see O'Neal play in person. O'Neal plans to set more visits once his high school season is over. Kentucky has showed some interest but has yet to offer. The five-star power forward will be playing with California Supreme in the EYBL this AAU season.
It's still pretty early to make any predictions, but the Pac-12 heavy hitters got in early with O'Neal and they seem to be the teams to beat. UCLA has been at every game I've attended and his teammate Lee is headed to Arizona next year. O'Neal definitely wants to play at a program where they let their bigs play outside and all three programs recruiting him hard in the Pac-12 offer that.