The growing trend in our society to soften up the young male generation has some well needed opponents. Many people have voiced their opinions on organizations rewarding all participants in sporting events with trophies. Take a trip up to the local YMCA or a Boys and Girls club and one can see this taking place. At a very young age this does not have a life changing impact on a person but as an individual gets older there needs to be caution taken when giving unearned rewards. This generation active kids are stuffed with various pills and tagged with ADHD or other hyperactive disorders, while lazy kiddos are given gadgets and deemed normal.
On the other end of this spectrum is another trend. College coaches offering young people athletic scholarships as early as junior high has raised the eyebrows of the not so ambitious. In fact there has been a rush of complaining on social media and even on talk radio shows of the exploitation of young athletes starting at an early age. This is truly an argument where hands have to get dirty. Yes, I agree that it is too much to hawk down 7th and 8th graders with athletic offers to big time division one schools. There is a lot of growth and change that occurs for a student athlete between his junior high years and his senior year of high school. But when it comes to accepting a necessary evil most sane people would side with the aggressive college coach rather than the tag team of youth organization coaches and pill-pocketing parents that unintentionally help create an uninspired generation.
The dead horse doesn’t have to get beaten over and over again. The argument against there being a universal rewarding of all participants is something that has its pros and cons. Just as a reminder here are some of the pros of giving trophies to all young participants. Youth coaches are instilling the concept that sports are fun and nobody ever experiences loss in life. We are always going to win. Why let a child experience loss that has little consequence except teach a valuable life lesson at the age of 7, when they can experience for the first time at 25 on his 15th job interview. The other side of the argument brings us to college coaches chasing down junior high athletes. A message to those college coaches. Please keep doing it. As a society we have minimized our male athletes to a level of “softness” that is now being absorbed by the younger generation. The skinny jeanification of the NBA is a blog for another day. Rewarding young athletes for hard work and focus is a great guide to discipline and solid habits. When all is said and done the final verdict is that we can either choose to pamper and stagnate a generation to rewarding all youth participants with trophies. Or we can plant seeds of ambition and determination in that same generation through regulated but intense competition. Love it or hate it but in the end…it is what it is.
Three NFL seasons ago one of the worse calls in the history of sports was made by the Seattle Seahawks coaching staff. It was the 2014-15 Superbowl and the Seahawks were facing the New England Patriots. With what seemed to be an automatic play call at least in the minds of every football fan on the planet, the Seahawk coaching staff decided to go against the playcalling grain and throw the ball on the two yard line. This was with a running back in the backfield nicknamed “beastmode.” The nickname itself tells you the story of Marshawn Lynch who at that point in the game was averaging 5.3 yards per rush. The two yard line in your opponent’s territory. A running back who is known for running through multiple tacklers just for kicks and giggles. An average per rush of 5.3 yards. Barely anytime left on the clock so this means that if they score, the Seahawks would keep the New England Patriots and their star quarterback Tom Brady from having any real shot at going down the field again and getting into the endzone again. All these factors add up to an obvious and very simple question. Why did the coaches call a pass play? Let’s not take anything from the Patriots. They played a great game and it culminated with a fantastic interception from Malcolm Butler who at the time was an unknown player in the league. But any former player and even current players had to have been scratching their heads wondering why the ball was left out of one the most brutal backs to ever play in the NFL since hall of famer Jim Brown. There are also many NFL fans including some in Seattle who are still giving the NFL a skeptic eye stare after an obvious questionable decision was made. The aftermath of that super bowl was the eventual retirement of Marshawn Lynch who has since returned to the NFL as an Oakland Raider. There were also some unwelcomed comments from another Seahawk superstar and one of the league’s best cover corners, Richard Sherman. Locker room chatter is usually contained but when things become as volatile as players questioning some obvious suspect playcalling, comments begin to make their way to the media. It was alleged that the decision to throw the ball was made in order to keep a “rebel” player in Marshawn Lynch from getting the MVP award which at that point would have surely went to him after another potential rushing touchdown. Whether this assumption holds any weight is up to the reader to decide but let’s not fool ourselves. There was a collective thought across the football world the moment the Patriots took the field after the interception and that thought was, “There’s something rotten in Denmark.”
Moving forward to the 2015-16 NBA finals where the Cleveland Cavaliers are taking on the Golden State Warriors. Whether you love or hate Lebron or the Warriors is really not the issue. We witnessed seven games that were intense regardless of how the referees managed the game. Nevertheless there must be light brought to the fact that there were some very suspect fouls called including a one game suspension of one of Golden State’s main defensive stars, Draymond Green. Maybe it was the short comment of Ayesha Curry, the wife of Warriors’ sharp shooter Steph Curry, that put heads on a swivel. She put a message out on social media that the NBA was fixed. That message was quickly taken down though. Whether she was silenced or not is not the issue. The issue is that some of the calls throughout the series were a little more than bad calls by the referees. They were absolutely made with extreme prejudice. And for the less likely to read a dictionary or encyclopedia, i’m not speaking of the prejudice that puts one race or culture against the next. I’m saying that those calls were one sided and had a bigger intention which seemed at the time to lengthen out the series. And there are obvious reasons for wanting a longer series but all these reasons come down to one thing. The mighty dollar. We won’t ever get a clear answer on whether that finals series was fixed but at best there was some questionable stuff taking place. At worst someone besides the referees and media had their hands in a cookie jar that happens to contain green cookies with dollar sign icing.
There is a action known as point shaving. There are referees who make terrible calls to turn the tide of a game. And there are coaches who put the livelihood of their team in jeopardy by choosing to manipulate the outcome of a game with their play calls. Side note. Beware of those who will read this article and immediately choose to debunk it. Those are the same individuals who think most of us have just fell off a turnip truck or yam wagon. They would also still argue that smart tv’s don’t record you, GMO foods are healthy, and mumble rappers aren’t sucka mc’s. But let me not digress from the topic at hand. If too many people begin shouting the same thing, in this case “fixed”, maybe there is a little something to it. Yes it would take a ton of people to be involved with such a conspiracy but when money is involved there is nothing to big or too small that won’t force people to go against their morals. Love it or hate it but in the end…it is what it is.
There is a cowardly silence buffering the NCAA from opposition these days. That silence comes from players and parents of the student-athletes who understand the unbalance that keeps billions in the NCAA’s pockets while student-athletes are left to their books, practice, and game day performance. The opposition happens to be anyone who understands business and the focus on a certain demographic when establishing college sports teams. The worse part of the issue starts with this article. Coaches, players, and most parents would agree that there should be some type of compensation for student-athletes outside of their scholarship coverage. But with the NCAA holding a coarse whip, most staff members within athletic programs along with the athletes who they coach or oversee are obligated to remain silent. That is if they want to maintain their jobs or in the athlete’s case, their position on their respective squad. In short no one wants to get “Kaepernicked.” What may seem like a more political term describing what happens when someone speaks out against the establishment, is actually becoming a common phrase especially in sports. But as we review some of the details of what is taking place behind the “iron curtain” known as the NCAA, it’s easy to see why silence may be the only option for anyone who feels compensation is due to the student-athlete.
The facts are right in our face. The NCAA is a multi-billion dollar industry with its two main bread winners being college football and basketball. We don’t need to delve too far into the exact per game numbers but the final totals from the college football playoffs alone topped $650 million. For the fact-finding types these figures were from Sports Illustrated, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. But you can go without a bona fide source and just use common sense to the obviousness of it all. Between team branding, endorsements, and television rights it doesn’t take a marketing genius to figure out the size of the piggy bank that the circle of control maintains.
A follow up question to these facts that any pundit would ask is would it really hurt those in control to give the student-athlete that plays the actual game one to two million bucks to split amongst each other. Of course it wouldn’t. And not to point out one coach and program in particular but any college sports fan would agree that the Alabama Crimson Tide synonymous with college football. And those fans would also agree that if it were not for retaining some of the best athletes on this planet, Alabama would not be the dynasty program that many have come to love. In the offseason of 2017 after a tremendous season ending in a national championship loss to Clemson, head coach Nick Saban signed one of the biggest contracts for a coach in sports history. Saban’s contract will pay him $65 million plus incentives from now until 2025 under a new contract extension. Of course there is nothing wrong with someone earning their keep and if there is any coach on the college sports scene that has proven himself it’s Nick Saban. But there is still an issue. One man. One fat check. 90 plus student-athletes. School books, dorm room/apartment, three hot meals, and an optional four year education. Maybe to some this is fair but if there isn’t at least one red flag going off in the reader’s head, that head should be examined for pockets of gullibility. Side note. The person owning that head unfortunately may have the wherewithal of a “sucka’ mc.” But I digress. Let’s not bring this topic to a close without pointing out the brief ripple in the water that was brought about by a former Northwestern football player. Kain Colter led a small group that had the sole aim of creating a labor union for players. The case went all the way up to the supreme court but eventually ended up being merely a ruffling of the feathers. You do have to appreciate the young men who took on this project. At best they have enough knowledge and assertiveness to try and bring some type of compensation to the young men and women on the playing field. At the least they have the intestinal fortitude that it takes to be heard in such a vast area where skills in the classroom take a backseat to skills on game day.
A great question to ask is what can be done about all of this. A great answer to that question would be nothing. At least not for another season or two. Could the NCAA pay student-athletes? Of course. Is there enough “green pie” to go around. Obviously. But in the end who has the desire to show up to the table of the great cabal of “masters” and ask for a few more crumbs only to be frowned upon and possibly be removed from the scene known as college sports. As Gordon Gekko so eloquently puts it, “Greed is good.” Love it or hate it but in the end…it is what it is.
There has been a stern warning sent out to any professional sports player who plans to make a political stance rather right or wrong. That stern warning is Colin Kaepernick. He has been ostracized from the NFL and despite his talent and the fact that he led his former San Francisco 49’er team to a super bowl berth in 2012, Kaepernick remains without a team. On the sports talk table are various reasons why the 6’4, 218 pound quarterback has been shunned by all 32 NFL teams. There are discussions that include a waning skill set, the mistake of asking for too much money, and even being too old. The first two excuses are slightly palpable but the age thing is nothing more than a ruse from pundits sympathetic to an underlying agenda. And this agenda is so powerful and worthy of mention that those who currently disagree will indeed have to agree sooner or later. If you have been living under a rock the story with Colin Kaepernick is one of a political stance. After an onslaught of social media attention to the killing of black men by police officers, Kaepernick decided to sit and eventually kneel during the national anthem. Whether one agrees with his stance or not, the main point of this article is to point out the unseen powers that can strip even the best athletes of their professional career.
While most sports media personalities won’t admit it, the decision to keep Colin Kaepernick out of the league goes above NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Not even he has the pull that it would take to strip away what could have been an illustrious career by a proven winner. This would take a level of collusion that would serve several purposes including silencing dissidence and sending a stout warning to any individual or groups that would otherwise venture outside a poshly cushioned lifestyle just to bring aware injustice. Colin Kaepernick was warned by his fans, teammates, and more than likely family to pull back on his views even if they may have had substance. But he made the choice to stand for something even if it meant being the dark horse in a league where dark horse types don’t last long. Fast forward the clock to the NFL offseason 2017. What Kaepernick and naive fans didn’t expect were for NFL owners (the powers that be) to attend an NFL team owners’ meeting and make this ordeal one of their main topics. Killing multiple birds with one stone would be a very mild way of putting the final decision of NFL owners in regards to closing out the Kaepernick problem. Why not silence any future political activist by making an example out of an otherwise successful NFL player. And don’t think for a second that NFL owners are not in communication with other sports league team owners such as the NBA, MLB, and NHL. The NFL owners meeting stood as an occasion to address once and for all any player regardless of sport about their political stances. The owners with literally no words let potential outspoken individuals and activists know that “if you speak out in an unpopular manner we will take your career.” This is exactly what has taken place and even the most popular sports media voice has had no effect on the league wide decision to avoid signing Colin Kaepernick.
What happens next in Colin Kaepernick’s career is not at all a mystery. He is unfortunately at the mercy of a cabal that in terms of sports careers has absolute power. And as the old saying going absolute power corrupts absolutely. The bottom line is that it will take more than one voice to stand against anything considered anti-establishment. A universal message has been sent to every future and current professional athlete inside the US borders and that message is that if you ever feel the need or desire to make your stance known, proceed with extreme caution lest you get “Kaerpernicked.” Love it or hate it but in the end….it is what it is.
Let’s make one thing clear. Kevin Durant wakes up on the morning of June 13, 2017 as a bona fide champion. Already a proven all star and future hall of famer, Durant will feel the heat of the pundit community with the constant hot topic of joining the Warriors as a free agent. Regardless of any wavering support for one of the top five talents in the history of the NBA, Kevin Durant will walk around for the rest of his life with something that 99-plus percent of the human population won’t and that is a professional sports title. After averaging over 35 points against the 2016 champion Cleveland Cavaliers the entire basketball world would agree that Durant held his own against Lebron James. Whatever you want to call Kevin Durant post 2017 NBA season, make sure you put World Champion in front of it.
Like all great champions of the past, there will be an asterisk by Kevin Durant’s name. It’s now common knowledge that he joined a super team that is best described by Lebron James as having the most firepower ever on an NBA franchise. Just think about it. Across every sport the majority of champions seem to get a “yes he won but…” and in a microwave narcissistic society such as the one we live in, you have to wonder if there is indeed a single champion without spot. We have found a way to criticize Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, Tom Brady and numerous others. And if you haven’t heard some of the more familiar lines gracing these historic sports stars here are some of the better ones:
“Yeah Jordan won six titles but he didn’t win anything before Pippen arrived.”- anonymous pundit
“Tom Brady would not be Tom Brady if Bill Belichick left New England.”- anonymous talking head
“Joe Montana was surrounded by a bunch of hall of famers not to mention he was in a flawless system set up by a hall of fame coach.”- anonymous football expert
Now we have Kevin Durant who may win several more NBA titles but will have to walk around with the infamous “he won…but” asterisk next to his name. I’m sure he won’t care. Think about the massive amounts of frustration that he has had to face including being ahead 3-1 in the 2016 Western Conference finals. His former OKC Thunder team would eventually drop the series to his current Golden State Warrior team. It is far too cliche to say if you can’t beat them join them but that is exactly what Durant did and no one can blame him. He saw a force that could not be taken down due to their age, their offensive prowess, and their front office management. In other words Kevin Durant knew he had two options after the summer of 2016. Spend the next five years of his career running through a hamster wheel of championship-less success or join up with a squad that was equipped to win three to four more titles. Side note. Location probably played a big hand in this because we all know that sunny California provides a much better life for a professional athlete than Oklahoma. No offense to Oklahomians. So it is easy to see why a star player would choose to bring his multitude of talents to an already loaded team. Durant’s goal at this point in his career is to win championships. It is not to put on a show for the NBA fan collective.
In the end most of the people criticizing Kevin Durant will wake up and walk into lives that are laden with asterisks. There will be a roundtable of pundits, talking heads, and so called experts that will forever criticize the most talented Golden State Warrior for joining a super power team. The simple conclusion to Durant joining the Warriors is that he came, he saw, and he conquered. And the best part about this is that he just got started. Love it or hate it but in the end….it is what it is.
Being athletically gifted is something most of the human population won’t experience so living vicariously through one’s favorite professional athlete can become a daily obsession. For anyone 35 years or older, Michael Jordan would arguably be the greatest basketball player to ever grace the court. For anyone younger their choice for the “Greatest Of All Time” would probably be Lebron James. Comparing Jordan And James is one of the most complicated sports comparisons in history. Due to changes in NBA rules and much of the bravado and physical-ness leaving the game, Jordan voters would agree that Lebron James has had to deal with a lot less of the brutal punishment that his “airness” faced throughout his hall of fame career. How would “King James” fans respond to that statement? They would intensely argue the fact that athletes in today’s era are bigger, stronger, faster and if Jordan played in this era he would not be able to take the physical punishment that an otherwise 6’8 260 pound Lebron James handles game to game. Reviewing the more empty parts of this argument will more likely cause this debate to end in a stalemate, but going over some of the more valid points may help clear the air on this fan battle that will last for decades to come.
Talking heads and pundits would go straight to the stat book and claim that six title rings without ever losing a championship series would be the clincher that makes Jordan the greatest. A very true statement. Michael Jordan never lost in a championship series. But there would have to be a more meticulous look at his career in order to cast a vote in the Air Jordan box for greatest of all time. Michael Jordan never decided to move on to an all-star loaded team. Michael Jordan was nothing less than abused when he finished at the basket especially after his long time rival Detroit Pistons invoked “the Jordan Rules.” The only way to really decide how much of an impact that the physical part has on this argument of the greatest player is to bring to light that the NBA has been “skinny-jeanified.” Yes the athletes are bigger and stronger and can obviously put a hurting on anyone, but there is a level of softness that did not exist during the Jordan era. Nevertheless Lebron James has at times been brutally punished when driving and finishing at the hoop. His body may indeed look like it was a personal project of God himself but this doesn’t mean he escapes the game by game assault. Let’s not be fruitless in our review by saying something dumb like “Jordan was a lot smaller so he was tougher.” Using someone’s physical superiority against them is a ploy by a physically inferior individual to push some hapless agenda. It’s an absolute fact that Lebron James has more physical talent than Michael Jordan. But on the flip side of this coin, Jordan possessed a mental grasp to the game that made everything he did on the court truly instinctive.
Now then what may be the only reasonable point that could tip the scales of this argument is era-swapping. Would Michael Jordan win six championship rings in this era? And if he did would he be able to 3-peat twice? And if you put Lebron James in the late 80’s and 90’s era would he be as dominate going to the basket with guys like Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman who were vested assassins guarding the paint. Side note. Would James get away with so much traveling in an era before refs admitted to fixing games (double click me). Lebron James physical attributes would make him a dominate force in that era irregardless of traveling calls and referees who had a little more integrity towards the game. Even the best defenders such as Dennis Rodman would have had nightmares trying to contain one of history’s greatest human specimens. If Jordan was in the current era he would have a mental advantage on any of active player. While the NBA has become a realm for the supreme athlete with guys who literally jump over other human beings and even small sedans as a form of entertainment, the mental toughness of the game is sheepish. Bottomline. Unless there is the invention of an era swapping time machine, fans of Jordan and James will continue to have a futile argument. The fact is that both hall of fame players would be great in any era because of their entire skill set that they brought and bring to the game. Currently Jordan retains the title of “greatest of all time”. And it won’t be until Lebron James retires that we have a clearer debate on whether “King James” usurps the crown and throne from “his Airness.” Love it or hate it but in the end….it is what is.
Can there be a better story in entrepreneurship than Lavar Ball and his Big Baller Brand? The narrative begins in sunny California where a former aspiring athlete, Lavar Ball ends up having three physically talented sons with the eldest son setting himself up to become a top three NBA draft pick. In the forefront is a high draft position in the ’17 NBA draft, and in the background is the unveiling of his own shoe along with other Big Baller Brand merchandise and accessories. The sports world has become enthralled with the outgoing personality of Lavar Ball. Most of his interviews have been historic two way battles including his back and forth with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, and heated infamous exchange with FS1’s Kristine Leahy. At this point in his career as an interviewee, Lavar Ball has surpassed the most popular daytime television hosts as a fan favorite.
So what’s the story behind the Big Baller Brand. At best it will be an epic tale of a father who decided not to let the athletic talents of his three sons get exploited by the big apparel companies. At worst you have the rare act of a self-absorbed former athlete who has mastered the skill of marketing himself and his product in a very short window of time. It takes the best PR and advertising firms years to build a meaningful name for most products and brands. It took Lavar Ball less than 90 days. While most people will see it as a person profiting off his kids’ talents and abilities, business geniuses would otherwise welcome Lavar Ball into that small circle that we know as self made millionaire.
The process was both difficult and simple. Turning his sons into basketball stars was the most difficult part. Lonzo Ball begin to show signs of greatness as a sophomore in high school. He would begin a rapid growth spurt that stretched his 5’11 frame almost 6 inches and ended up giving the eldest and most talented Ball brother a 6’5 height with the wingspan of a 6’8 athlete. Lonzo would eventually end up at UCLA where he culminated a successful freshman campaign with a NCAA tournament loss to Kentucky. That game by the way had the third highest tv rating in NCAA tournament history. Fast forward several interviews later, the unveiling of his new shoes, and a ton of “love him or hate him” social media posts; and here we are now at one of the biggest upsets in sports history. Why an upset you ask? Picture this scenario. After unreasonable demands of a billion dollar contract from one of the major athletic shoe brands, the owners of these respective brands decided to meet at the CEO roundtable and collude to ostracize the Ball family. A sort of preemptive strike if you will in order to disarm a potential marketing genius before his idea of a self made brand rippled across the psyche of young future stars. And maybe these owners understand the simplicity of it all. A shoe collector would surely love to venture out have a pair of customized shoes and other apparel from a player specific label. It would especially keep things a lot more interesting knowing that there is a piece of history being stored away on a fan’s favorite player. An added bonus would be the absence of mundane sports conversation when fans talk to other fans about their favorite player’s athletic apparel and merchandise brands. Taking a back seat would be the current major labels and the winners of the branding wars would be smaller more “new on the block” brands.
Call this a usurping of the throne if you will. But all Lavar Ball did was wake up the masses. And of course the only thing that the major brands can do now is muddy up his name by making Ball seem overly cocky and a waste of interview space. But to the dismay of Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas, the Big Baller Brand has already caught the attention of every potential pro athlete, up and coming brands, and sports junkies around the world. You can say what you want about Lavar Ball and his sons but know that the Big Baller Brand will remain a mainstay in the world of sports simply because this has become a case of supporting the anti-hero. Love it or hate it but in the end….it is what it is.
As we get closer and closer to National Letter of Intent signing day there are many high school senior athletes who have yet to make a decision on their future plans. Unfortunately there will be some great players that signing day will pass by for a plethora of reasons. Make no mistake about it, college sports while having some of the best athletes in the world has historically looked over potential pro talent. In many cases some of these misses have found their ways into prep schools and/or junior colleges eventually ending up on a division one roster. Now comes the Pacific Pro Football league which will basically be a sizable fishing net that will catch some of those misses and unsigned seniors. The first season of the league is projected to begin in the summer of 2018 which would mean that it’s first selection of players would be the winter of 2017 or early spring of 2018. The brass tax of it all is that this league will pay its players and as any former or present college football player will tell you, being paid to play the sport you love is a major plus. Why will the PAC Pro League succeed? Simple. It has a former coaching mastermind in Mike Shanahan and a former super bowl champion in Ed McCaffrey as the main advisors to league owners. McCaffrey is actually one of the founders and with his knowledge of the components of a winning franchise and Shanahan’s experience with the NFL, things are sure to go in the right direction. And this of course is not to downplay the other executives involved. Donald Yee is known as an aggressive and successful businessman and this will definitely be one of his greatest business moves.
Currently there are four teams involved with the PAC Pro League but rest assured there will be expansion and with the hype meter heading off the charts, big corporations are readying their checkbooks to get in on this venture. Compensation packages will include but are not limited to an annual player salary of $50,000, one year of paid community college, and academic/vocational counseling. A pretty good deal considering most guys would be willing to play for free as long as they have a division one uniform on their back. Meanwhile there are thousands of high school football players especially those in the class of 2018 and on thinking that this is the opportunity of a lifetime. Now it must be said that the league is mainly for players who are college age but that in no way means that a high school football player at the least shouldn’t bask in the hopes of a paid alternative and thus “have an ice cream cone and skip through the park” sort of feeling at this new opportunity.
Should the NCAA be worried about the PAC Pro League taking some of its better athletes? At the moment that would be a big no. The NCAA is a billion dollar industry and has pipelines for talent that reach around the world. But that is not to say that they won’t be looking over their shoulders and paying attention to the PAC Pro League’s progression. Figure this a classic situation of Nike versus Under Armour. When Under Armour first began all they wanted to do is get into the same room as Nike, Adidas, and Reebok and now they have one of the biggest names in athletic apparel. This may or may not happen with PAC Pro Football but at it’s roots there is definitely an argument that this will be the next powerhouse league. Stay tuned.
Most of us remember Shaquille O’Neal for his rim shattering dunks. Die hard basketball fans can scroll their memory all the way back to when Shaq faced off against a Christian Laetner led Duke team. Where after being defeated by Duke, Shaq was minimized as a “maybe” future NBA star. Those who said that would later eat crow when Shaquille O’Neal became a hall of famer as the most feared inside presence in the history of the NBA. Scroll life forward to the present and now comes Shaquille O’Neal’s son, Shareef O’Neal, who is his father’s clone with his heart, his drive, his presence on the floor but he adds a couple of more components to his own game. The true basketball mind would immediately ask what an athlete could possibly add to the game of a hall of famer and more than that how could someone, even if it’s Shaq’s son, become better than the original number 32. Here’s how. Shareef O’Neal has the favor of NBA legends on his side mainly Kobe Bryant who he schedules workouts with. Between arguably the best basketball center in history and one of the top three overall players in Kobe Bryant, Shareef O’Neal will have some of the best training that a prospect can come by. The younger O’Neal may very well rise up to the top spot for co’18 prospects. Currently the 6’9 power forward attends Crossroads School located in California.
What makes Shareef O’Neal one of the top recruits in the class of 2018? Besides the fact that he is the most athletic swingman in his class, he is quickly learning how to defend. A defender with his length and potentially high basket IQ that will be attained from training with NBA legends will be nothing less than lethal on the floor. In fact when he learns how to play defense with the fierceness of the elder O’Neal, things could get downright frightening for his opponents. Offensively, he already has a very effective midrange jumper. While Shaq’s finishes at the rim were at minimum sinister to his competition, Shareef O’Neal’s dunk ability has been described as violently poetic. This touches to the fact that while there are many similarities in the father and son’s game, the younger O’Neal is also turning into a perimeter threat. While there are other prospects that can match skills with the young prospect, Shareef is developing floor leadership skills, an NBA caliber handle, and a defensive prowess that has now made him the prime target of every major basketball program in the NCAA. There are murmurings in the basketball world of the elder Shaq wanting his son to attend Kentucky. Whether Shareef chooses the Wildcats remains to be seen. What we do know though is that he will continue to terrorize his opponents on the high school level and is set to be a sleeker version of the original diesel. Would a fitting nickname be Diesel 2.0? Stay tuned. www.besquadsport.com