- Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Apple
- Shareef O’Neal – a son of the NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal – announced on Tuesday that he would be playing for the UCLA Bruins at the start of next season.
- The top basketball recruit decommitted from the University of Arizona days earlier amid the school’s bribery scandal.
- An ESPN report last week said Arizona head coach Sean Miller had been caught on a wiretap discussing a possible $100,000 payment in exchange for landing a star recruit who joined the team this season.
The FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball is already having big ramifications for the Arizona Wildcats.
On Friday, an ESPN report said head coach Sean Miller had been caught on an FBI wiretap discussing a possible $100,000 payment to secure the signing of Deandre Ayton, a star prospect who joined the team this season. On Saturday, news broke that Miller would not be coaching the Wildcats in their game against Oregon.
Amid the controversy, the standout high-school prospect Shareef O’Neal – a son of the NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal – announced he was decommitting from Arizona and looking to other schools to spend his first, and possibly only, season of college basketball.
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.
— Shareef O’Neal (@SSJreef) February 24, 2018
O’Neal first committed to the Wildcats in April 2017. According to ESPN, because O’Neal didn’t sign a letter of intent, instead sticking to nonbinding financial-aid papers with the school, he wouldn’t need the school to release him before committing elsewhere.
On Tuesday, O’Neal took to social media yet again, this time to announce that he’d be taking his talents to UCLA in the fall.
“HEADING TO UCLA ????????” the caption said. “I know my mom is glad I’m staying home LOL.”
While O’Neal was largely able to avoid the fracas of the ongoing investigation, chances are there are still more schools and coaches left to fall in the FBI investigation, and with them, more top recruits who may be scared off by the possibility of coach firings or NCAA sanctions. A report from earlier in February said the FBI had collected “4,000 intercepted calls and thousands of documents and bank records” for its investigation.