Tracy Pierson of Bruin Report Online is reporting that O’Neal “more than likely won’t qualify academically to enroll” at UCLA.
He “has been making an effort to, indeed, become eligible, but recent information leads us to believe it’s unlikely,” Pierson wrote.
O’Neal spent his first two years of high school at Windward School in Los Angeles before transferring to Crossroads School in Santa Monica.
O’Neal decommitted from Arizona in February then quickly committed to UCLA, but hasn’t signed a National Letter of Intent, so technically he can still sign elsewhere.
247Sports ranks O’Neal as the No. 38 prospect in the 2018 class, so losing him would be a big blow for the Bruins.
Especially because Bruin Report Online is also reporting that Jaylen Hands (NBA Draft), Kris Wilkes (NBA Draft), and Cody Riley (academically ineligible) might not return to UCLA next season, which would ravage the Bruins’ roster even further.
Plus, junior point guard Aaron Holiday has already made it known that he will be staying in the draft.
So if Hands and Wilkes leave, the Bruins won’t have much in terms of returning talent, and they will have to rely heavily on their incoming freshman class. It is the sixth-best class in the country, but that ranking includes O’Neal.
UCLA’s misfortune is both good and bad for Arizona. It gives the Wildcats a better shot of winning the Pac-12, but it also weakens the conference, which hasn’t been very deep the last few years to begin with.
Not to mention Arizona could be a bubble team, and its strength of schedule and number of quality wins could be the difference between earning an at-large bid or missing the NCAA Tournament altogether.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire