LSU expected to see some attrition this offseason in the aftermath of the decision to fire men’s basketball coach Will Wade. But nobody expected quite the roster turnover we’ve seen in Baton Rouge over the last couple of weeks.
Since the Tigers lost to Iowa State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, new coach Matt McMahon has seen the entire roster depart, either to the 2022 NBA draft (in the case of Tari Eason and Darius Days) or the transfer portal.
The younger O’Neal, who joined the Tigers as a transfer from UCLA two years ago, was never able to make much of an impact on the court and entered the transfer portal last week. In an appearance on The Big Podcast, Shaq voiced his support for his son’s decision to transfer.
“Wherever he decides I’m behind him,” Shaq said. “He’s a grown man making a decision and has kinda had a lot of basketball bad luck… We go to LSU where I thought they would take care of him but they didn’t, they have their own problem down there. I hope wherever he goes he gets a shot.
“I have a Giannis (Antetokounmpo) with a jump shot, that’s how I raised him… but people don’t know.”
That’s quite a lofty comparison, but O’Neal certainly has the talent. The former top-50 recruit has disappointed to this point in his career, though.
O’Neal was originally committed to Arizona in high school before the same investigation that is ironically now plaguing LSU resulted in the termination of coach Sean Miller. He ended up in Westwood, where he averaged just 10.2 minutes, 2.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in 13 games as a true freshman.
In Baton Rouge, those numbers haven’t changed much. He registered a career-high in points this past season with 2.9 per game, but his average minutes per game dropped from 14.9 to 9.2.
O’Neal will be a senior in 2022-23 but has an extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19. He will hope to finally shake the “basketball bad luck,” as his father put it, at his next stop.
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