Shareef O'Neal Says He, Father Shaquille 'Butted Heads' over 2022 NBA Draft Decision

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJune 21, 2022

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 26: Shareef O'Neal #24 of the LSU Tigers reacts against the Missouri Tigers during a game at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on February 26, 2022 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Shareef O'Neal told reporters on Tuesday that he and his father, Hall of Fame center and TNT analyst Shaquille O'Neal, have disagreed on his decision to turn pro ahead of the NBA draft.

Shaq wanted Shareef to finish school, and the two haven't discussed his workouts because it's become a tense subject.

Bill Oram @billoram

Shareef O’Neal says he and his dad have butted heads over pre-draft process because Shaq wanted him to stay in school. Adds that his dad probably doesn’t want him sharing this, but, “I’m a grown man. I’m 22 years old I can make my own decision.”

"I'm not backing down from nobody," he said. "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. So, if he likes it or not, it's not really gonna stop me from doing what I want to do."

Shareef O'Neal was a 4-star prospect coming out of high school, but a number of injuries and a heart condition limited him to just 37 college games between UCLA and LSU. He averaged 2.6 points and three rebounds per game during his college career and wasn't a huge factor for the Tigers this past season, playing just 9.2 minutes per game across 14 contests.

That makes him very unlikely to get drafted, though a team could take a flier on him as an undrafted free agent.

B/R's Jonathan Wasserman didn't have O'Neal being selected in his latest two-round mock draft. Neither did SI.com's Jeremy Woo. The Athletic's Sam Vecenie didn't have him listed as one of the top 100 players on his 2022 NBA draft big board.

Given his injury history, age and limited production in college, any team that does sign O'Neal would be banking on pedigree and raw upside. That makes his father's perspective—that he should have remained in school—easier to understand.

On Tuesday, he worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers, where Shaq and Kobe Bryant combined to win three titles.

"I walked in today and I was kind of star struck," he told reporters. "I was born into this team. My dad and Kobe won championships with this team."

"Now I got the Lakers jersey on," he added. "... I got a Lakers No. 6 on. Hopefully LeBron doesn’t get mad."