Video: Shareef O'Neal finishes on top
Watch the son of Shaquille O'Neal lead his Crossroads' squad to a state-title victory Friday night.
It's not always easy being Shareef O'Neal
, a five-star recruit who is the son of NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal.
There's been pressure. Lots of it. Everyone has watched him, expecting preposterous numbers. He had to pick the perfect college. Social media sorts constantly take shots. Visiting fans constantly heckle, comparing him to his old man.
For a high school senior, it's a lot to process and navigate.
On Friday on the floor of the Golden 1 Center, home of the Sacramento Kings, much of that pressure rolled off the shoulders of O'Neal who completed his high school career in grand fashion.
The long and lean 6-foot-9, 205-pound scored 29 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked five shots, leading Crossroads (Santa Monica)
to a 59-53 win over Alameda
in the CIF State Division 2 championship.
O'Neal made 8 of 18 from the field and 13-for-17 from the line as Crossroads won its third state championship, but first since 1997. It was the first title of O'Neal's career.
Next fall, he's committed to UCLA.
"As the game went on, all that tension that had built up is now all gone," O'Neal said. "I didn't expect (his career) to end this fast. It's probably not going to hit me for a couple of days."
It hit his dad immediately.
Shaquille O'Neal was in Miami on a prior commitment, Shareef said, but he got a video from him right after the game. The Hall of Fame center watched the game on TV, Shareef said.
"He and everyone with him was screaming and going crazy," Shareef said with a giant smile. "I feel like he was there."
Shareef, who came in averaging 27.6 points and 17.3 rebounds, played in the middle of the team's 2-1-2 zone, which Alameda (28-6) was never able to solve. He grabbed eight offensive rebounds and nine on the defensive end.
Alameda, which got 16 points from
and 10 points and 10 rebounds from Kingsley Obiorah
, shot just 18-of-53 from the field, and most costly was 13-of-28 from the line, including missing the front end of six one-and-ones.
Shareef made the same amount of free throws by himself, though he missed his first two. He went 13 of 15 the rest of the way.
The stripe proved to be the difference in the game.
"After missing those first two, I told myself I wouldn't miss any more," Shareef said.
He got loads of help from his teammates, including 15 points and seven rebounds by Darrel Houston
. It led to Crossroads' 11th straight win to end the season for first-year coach Anthony Davis, who was passed over as head coach a couple of times he said.
"Never give up on a dream," Davis said. "This is a special group of kids. I love these guys."
Shareef shared a similar affection for his teammates.
"I'm really proud of our guys," Shareef said. "We had a lot going on. Sometimes it's not like how we planned it. But winning this is all that matters."