UCLA Bruins freshman and former Arizona Wildcats commit Shareef O’Neal will miss the 2018-19 season due to a “heart issue that will require major surgery,” he told TMZ.
It was detected during a routine checkup.
“Thank God the UCLA medical staff caught it early,” O’Neal told TMZ.
UCLA said in a statement that O’Neal “will remain enrolled in class and on the men’s basketball team during this redshirt year.”
It is not expected to be a career-ending condition, as O’Neal tweeted “I will be back basketball world... just wait on me.”
Blessed to be here living today, one of those moments on the court could’ve been my last... I will be back basketball world .. just wait on me ❤️ I’ll miss you this year but you will always be with me ❤️ https://t.co/YP4zZwg1FF— Shareef O’Neal (@SSJreef) September 28, 2018
The 6-foot-9 forward was the No. 41 recruit in the 2018 class, per 247Sports composite rankings, so it is a big loss for the Bruins.
O’Neal was originally set to attend Arizona, but decommited on Feb. 24 after ESPN reported that FBI wiretaps have UA coach Sean Miller discussing a $100,000 payment to secure the commitment of Deandre Ayton.
O’Neal committed to UCLA three days later and stayed committed, even though the veracity of the ESPN report has been shaky at best.
“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,” O’Neal said in a Tweet at the time.
It was going to be interesting to watch O’Neal suit up against the Wildcats, and hopefully he recovers and returns to the court in 2019-20.