As reported by the Los Angeles Times, and followed on by USA TODAY High School Sports, O’Neal’s high school coach, Crossroads School coach Anthony Davis claims that the son of Shaquille O’Neal has agreed to join UCLA’s Class of 2018, a burgeoning group that already includes four-star guard David Singleton, four-star wing Jules Bernard, 6-foot-11 center Kenneth Nwuba, four-star point guard Tyger Campbell and five-star, 7-foot-1 center Moses Brown.
Assuming O’Neal and all his prospective future teammates follow through and join up in Westwood, the Bruins would have a full half roster of elite freshmen.
Having six recruits brings distinct advantages. Among them are unique achievements such as becoming the only program that features five top-100 recruits in the Class of 2018. Compare that with Duke, which has the consensus top class thanks to pledges from the top three players in the class, and one can make a case that UCLA actually has a better class. Duke has four five-stars, all of whom are ranked among the nation’s Top-12 players. UCLA has five top-100 players, plus a raw 7-foot-1 center with as much potential as his height.
No, the top players heading to UCLA are not considered quite as strong as the one’s who will play at Duke. But they’re still very, very good. And the future Bruins have more depth, a factor which is not to be overlooked in the relative lottery that can be high school recruiting.
For O’Neal, the decision essentially serves to sever any lingering ties with Arizona, the school which he so recently decommitted from. While O’Neal has not yet signed any paperwork tying him to UCLA, the decision is logical. After getting burned by a basketball power in another state, O’Neal decided to stay closer to home. The Bruins were apparently all too happy to accommodate.
Of course, until O’Neal arrives on campus, it’s impossible to know for sure that he’ll land there. After all, he’s already backed away from one school that he had signed non-binding paperwork with. Given the pace of all the investigations into college basketball programs, it wouldn’t be a shock for him to pull the same trick twice.