Months of speculation regarding whether Shareef O’Neal was going to be a part of the 2018-19 UCLA Men’s Basketball team came to an end this morning with the announcement that O’Neal has signed a grant-in-aid and will be able to play when the season begins in November.
Some news outlets started reporting that O’Neal was not going to academically qualify for UCLA. On May 22, Tracy Pierson of Bruin Report Online reported that O’Neal “more than likely won’t qualify academically to enroll” at UCLA. He “has been making an effort to, indeed, become eligible, but recent information leads us to believe it’s unlikely,” Pierson wrote.
O’Neal, a 6-foot-10 and 220-pound forward from Los Angeles, Crossroads School in Santa Monica, Calif. Last season O’Neal helped Crossroads win the CIF Division II state title game with a 59-53 victory over Alameda at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
Nobody is more excited than Steve Alford about Shareef’s arrival, as O’Neal gives Alford another recruit to help him try to save his job. A UCLA press release quotes Alford:
He’s an outstanding addition to our incoming class and brings a terrific combination of size, skill and athleticism. We love the length and height of this year’s team, and Shareef is really going to add to that dynamic. He has a terrific frame, one that will allow him to continue improving on both sides of the floor. With Shareef, you’re talking about a hard-working young man with tremendous upside, and his presence in our team’s frontcourt is a significant addition.
O’Neal will join the 2018 UCLA Bruins recruiting class. The class also includes Jules Bernard, Moses Brown, Tyger Campbell, Kenneth Nwuba and David Singleton.