Shareef O’Neal bet on himself, turning pro to end an injury-riddled college career this year — which led to a short Summer League stint with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Shareef declared for the 2022 NBA Draft even though his father — and Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal — hoped he would go back to college. “He didn’t like the idea at all,” the 22-year-old said after his pre-draft workout with L.A.
“But it was right in front of me,” Shareef added. “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.”
The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in four Las Vegas Summer League games for the Purple and Gold. His performance might have not earned Shareef a contract with the Lakers. However, he has achieved his goal and will play professional basketball later this year having signed for the NBA G League Ignite, confirming a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic:
VEGAS LETS DO IT !! Thank you ignite ! https://t.co/u3rgxt9e7B
— Shareef O’Neal (@SSJreef) July 25, 2022
Several G League Ignite alumni will play in the NBA next season. Those include former top-10 picks Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga as well as this year’s draftees: Dyson Daniels, MarJon Beauchamp and Jaden Hardy.
However, unlike Shareef, the above players polished their skills in the G League before declaring for the draft.
Shareef recalls Kobe Bryant checking in on him after heart surgery
Shareef was born in 2000, in the middle of his father and Kobe Bryant’s pursuit of their first championship with the Lakers.
The young forward recently recalled the close relationship he had developed with Bryant over the years. Kobe would check in on Shareef every day after his open heart surgery.
Bryant would also encourage the boy to pursue his dreams no matter what.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!