Considering that he isn't eligible to sign a letter of intent for another 18 months and won't step on a college campus for good for two years, Shareef O'Neal sure is getting a lot of recruiting attention. Granted, that's what tends to happen when your father is Shaquille O'Neal, and when you're training over the summer with Kobe Bryant.
So whether you're a fan of basketball recruiting or not, the question of "where will Shareef O'Neal go to college" is something we're almost certainly going to be talking about quite a bit over the next few years. At last check, the usual suspects (Duke, Kentucky, etc.) topped Shareef's list.
Of course, like anything else, things change, and so too has the climate around Shareef's recruitment. Some have gone so far as to say that Shaq is actually "steering" his son to Kentucky, an absurd claim according to Shaq.
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The Big Diesel defended himself on Tuesday, explaining why he likes Kentucky -- but not only Kentucky -- in his latest podcast.
"The reason why Kentucky -- because the potential my father saw in me, and him knowing that I was going to go to the next level, I definitely see it in Shareef. The reason why he trusted me with Dale Brown is because he knew Dale Brown could get me to that next level -- not playing-wise or coaching-wise; discipline-wise. So I would like for my son to play for a coach that is going to teach him next-level stuff. I have three in mind: Johnny Jones at LSU because I know him personally; Calipari; and the coach from Michigan State, Tom Izzo."
Simply put, this is the unfortunate side of fame: While Shareef is a good (but not yet great) player, his recruitment is going to be under the microscope, simply because of who his father is. And whenever a high-profile school like Kentucky gets involved, there's always going to be insinuation (whether it's publicly or by other coaches) that Shareef is being steered one way or another.
Of course, in terms of the actual recruitment, wouldn't every parent -- if able to -- steer their kid in some way, shape or form to Kentucky? Every high school player wants to eventually play in the NBA, and no one has a better track record in helping kids get through school and to the NBA (not to mention, succeed once they get there) than John Calipari does.
In terms of the other schools on Shaq's list, both make sense as well. Tom Izzo is a future Hall of Fame coach at Michigan State, while LSU is Shaq's alma mater.
Granted, it's hard for Shaq to argue that LSU's Johnny Jones is the man to get his son to the next level successfully, given the Ben Simmons debacle last year.
Then again, with the way last season went, who's to say Jones will even be there by the time Shareef enrolls.