After de-committing from Arizona in light of the payoff scandal, Shareef O’Neal has announced that he will play for UCLA.
The 18-year-old posted a photo of himself and his mother on Instagram all garbed in UCLA gear. Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal was also in the family photo with his arm around the 6-9 high school senior.
“HEADING TO UCLA 💛💙 I know my mom is glad I’m staying home LOL,” he wrote.
The announcement came three days after O’Neal de-committed from Arizona following the ESPN report that its coach Sean Miller talked about a $100,000 payment to projected NBA No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton.
In the report, Miller reportedly discussed with Christian Dawkins, said to be a runner for high profile sports agent Andy Miller, about the alleged grease money. Prior to committing to Arizona in September 2016, Ayton was also pursued by Kansas, San Diego State, Maryland, and Kentucky.
Ayton’s attorney released a statement claiming that the family is both “disgusted” and “outraged” over the false reports dragging the name of the 7-foot-1 forward into the pay-for-play scandal. The lawyer said that his client already talked to the FBI six months ago and denied ever accepting money to commit to Arizona.
The lawyer also said the decision to play for Arizona was mainly due to Ayton’s ties to Phoenix, where the family is residing.
Afterward, O’Neal tweeted that he doesn’t want to get involved with all that controversy. Hours later, he announced that he’s de-committing from Arizona.
In a Twitter post on Feb. 24, he wrote, “At this time I’m am opening up my recruitment due to the current events with the UofA Bball team.I would like to thank all the coaches for recruiting me. At the time my family and I think it’s in my best interest to look at other options to assure my play in the NCAA next year.”