He knows it’s coming. He’s heard it, he’s grown up in it, and he’s made do with it. Shareef O’Neal swerved from the path that would have forced him to try to play out of position, and instead established his own brand of dominance on the court.
Your first impression of Shareef is that he resembles Paul George or Kevin Durant more so than the most dominant post player ever, his father, Shaquille O’Neal. Yes, the height gene was passed down from his pops, but he lacks the bulk that made his father such a force — Reef checks in at 6’10, but weighs only 220 pounds.
“When my dad first started training me, he never trained me like him,” the younger O’Neal tells Dime. “He made me watch hours and hours of Kobe, Tracy McGrady, LeBron and players that were taller but played like guards. He never taught a post move until I told him I wanted to learn a post move.”
As a slender 6’4 freshman, Reef showed flashes of the dynamic wing player he would become, but his coaches saw a big man in the making. Finding his way Windward High in Los Angeles, O’Neal had a tough time fitting in.
“All the coaches I had were like, ‘Your dad’s a center, you’re probably going to be as big as him, let’s put you in the post,’” O’Neal says. “Every time I’d shoot an outside shot, they’d be like, ‘Nah you gotta stay in the post.’”