On Saturday, Class of 2018 Crossroads (CA) School 6-foot-9 forward Shareef O’Neal, announced he is reopening his college recruitment, per his twitter page. This follows reports that Arizona head coach Sean Miller was caught discussing a 100K payment for star freshman Deandre Ayton via FBI wiretaps. With O’Neal reopening his recruitment, we take a look at the best fits for the versatile forward.
These schools are in no particular order.
For the Wildcats 2018 recruiting class, they have landed two guards including Immanuel Quickley and Tyler Herro. They have also landed wing in Keldon Johnson, who can play both the shooting guard and small forward spot. Kentucky has yet to pick up a forward for their 2018 class. Although the Wildcats have not offered O’Neal, that could be subject to change with his recent decommitment. Calipari and staff are in the mix for Class of 2018 Wheeler (GA) High School 6-foot-10 forward E.J. Wheeler. North Carolina and Duke are also in the mix for Wheeler.
The only problem is, if Jarred Vanderbilt decides to stay another year instead of declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft, then the forward spot could be crowded next season. Vanderbilt and PJ Washington, and Wenyen Gabriel are both similar forwards to O’Neal. This could result in O’Neal battling for playing time as a freshman with Nick Richards and Sacha Killeya-Jones, if neither player declares for the draft. O’Neal could wait to see what moves these players decide to do in regard to declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft. This wouldn’t be a bad idea as we still don’t have all of the information from the FBI regarding their investigation into college basketball.
The Bruins already have five commits but have do not have a versatile forward like O’Neal. UCLA has two true centers in their 2018 class, Kenneth Nwuba and Moses Brown. With the stretch-four forward holding high value in the game of basketball today, O’Neal could be a fit for the Bruins. The Crossroads School forward is from Los Angeles and UCLA offered O’Neal back in August of 2015.
With Cody Riley and Jalen Hill suspended for the season due to their shoplifting incident in China, it will be interesting to see if the two can get back in the good graces of the university as well as the coaching staff. O’Neal would come in as a higher ranked prospect than Hill and Riley coming out of high school. The Bruins situation seems to be a better fit for early playing time compared to Kentucky.
The Bears have three frontcourt players graduating after this season that includes Nuni Omot, Terry Maston, and Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. With the graduation of these three seniors, that leaves Tristan Clark and Freddie Gillespie the only forwards to stand in the way of getting playing time. Clark is averaging 21.1 minutes per game so far during his freshman campaign. Gillespie is a walk-on transfer from Division III Carleton sitting out this year to meet the NCAA’s transfer requirements.
Baylor is another school who has yet to land a versatile forward who can play for the four spot for 2018. The Bears class includes small forward Matthew Mayer, center Flo Thamba, and shooting guard Darius Allen. If O’Neal would to commit to the Bears, he would fit nicely beside Mayer and Thamba. Thamba is a shot blocking big that rebounds at a high rate which would be the perfect fit for O’Neal to play beside since he has the capability of stretching the floor behind the three-point line. Baylor is another school who offered back in November of 2015.
The Trojans have yet to land a forward in their 2018 class thus far as well. USC has landed two Top 50 guards including shooting guard Kevin Porter and point guard Elijah Weaver. With Bennie Boatwright testing the NBA waters last year, the possibility of him entering the 2018 NBA Draft is there. Big man Chimezie Metu also seems to be a first round pick in most mock drafts at the moment. This leaves O’Neal competing with Harrison Henderson and Nick Rakocevic for minutes which O’Neal seems to be talented enough to beat these two out for minutes.
Again, with O’Neal being from Los Angeles it doesn’t seem far fetched for the forward to want to stay home. The Trojans offered him back in May of 2015.
UCLA, Baylor, and USC have all offered O’Neal previously to his commitment to Arizona. Kentucky was chosen on the notion that I could see them offering if they realize Montgomery isn’t coming their way. His best suitors are subject to change if schools decide to come in and offer who weren’t previously in the picture.
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