Shareef O’Neal worked out with the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday — as legendary center Shaquille O’Neal’s son hopes to rejuvenate his career after three injury-ridden years in college.
Shareef missed the 2018-19 season after UCLA doctors diagnosed the forward with a heart condition that required surgery. In 2020, he transferred to LSU where he played in a limited role for two seasons due to a foot injury. The 22-year-old averaged 2.6 points and 3.0 rebounds in 37 games before ending his college career and declaring for the 2022 NBA Draft.
After the pre-draft workout with the Lakers, Shareef revealed that Shaq disagreed with the young forward’s decision to turn pro. “Me and him have kind of bumped heads about this process,” Shareef said.
“He wanted me to stay in school. I wanted to better myself and go through this. He knows I’m working out for teams but I’m not going to lie, we haven’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 a team. It’s a different grind. But he didn’t want me to do this.
“I know he probably he doesn’t want me saying this but it’s alright, we’re both grown. We’ll get past it.”
Shareef said going through the draft process on his own “made it a little scary.” However, he stands by his decision, adding he didn’t feel like himself in college.
“[My dad] is big on education and I feel like in college, I wasn’t getting an opportunity,” Shareef said. “I got the invite to the G League Elite camp and it opened a lot of doors for me. I’ve said it before, I feel like it really brought me back and I showed a little bit of what I can do. Then once I started getting calls from teams to work out, I was like ‘Man, if this is what I want to do, I’m here, it’s right in front of me, just go for it.’ So I continued the work.
“He didn’t like the idea at all. It sucks that he didn’t like the idea but I’m a grown man. I’m 22 years old, I can make my own decisions. It was right in front of my face, I’m not backing up from it. I’m going to get it if I see it. That’s just how I’m built. I take everything the same way.
“I took my heart surgery the same way. Being cleared was right in front of me, being healthy was right in front of me and I went for it. I’m not backing down for no one. I know he’s an NBA legend, I know he’s my dad. But it was right in front of me. I had to go get it. If he likes it or not, that’s not really going to stop me from doing what I want to do.
“Like I said, I want to play basketball, I want to get it. So, I’m here.”
Khalifa Diop explains what he can offer NBA teams after pre-draft workout with Lakers
The day before Shareef O’Neal worked out with the Lakers, Senegalese big man Khalifa Diop had a chance to showcase his skills in front of L.A.’s coaches. The 7-footer said he enjoyed the intensity of the session and then explained why NBA teams should consider giving him a chance.
“I bring a lot of rebounds, defensive rebounding, guarding small guys one-on-one, boxing out, setting good picks and good rolls,” Diop said. “Sometimes going to a slow roll and looking for a pass, I do that good.”
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