When Shareef O’Neal committed to Sean Miller and Arizona on April 19, the five-star forward looked he would be just one piece of a monster recruiting class in Tucson. Now Arizona is hoping it can hang onto any of its recruits following the program’s involvement in the FBI’s mammoth investigation into widespread corruption throughout college basketball.
O’Neal could be the next Arizona recruit to jump ship — flipping from a red Wildcats jersey to a blue one. The Crystal Ball at 247 Sports now shows Kentucky with 100 percent of the predictions for O’Neal.
This is notable because O’Neal is still committed to Arizona. But with the rest of the recruiting class crumbling around him, it would now feel like an upset if Shaq’s son actually ends up playing for Miller.
Arizona has already taken a big hit after the FBI investigation
Five-star wing Nassir Little committed to North Carolina Wednesday night. Before the scandal, Little seemed so likely to go to Arizona that other schools were backing off him:
Two NCAA coaches involved in the recruitment of Nassir Little told me they had backed off this week as it became clear he was Arizona-bound.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) September 26, 2017
Little is widely believed to be “Player-12” in the FBI investigation as the recruit who sparked a $150K bidding war between two schools tied to rival apparel brands.
Jahvon Quinerly’s commitment to Arizona could be in jeopardy as well. The five-star point guard, who pledged to the Wildcats on Aug. 8, is also believed to be involved in the FBI investigation. From AZ Central:
How do we know it's Quinerly? The document reported that Richardson took a total of $20,000 in bribes and gave most of it to a "top point guard" who committed “around three days” before Aug. 11. Quinerly, a five-star point guard, announced on ESPNU on Aug. 8 that he would play for to Arizona.
No. 1 overall recruit R.J. Barrett also dropped Arizona from consideration, though it seems likely he was always headed to Duke. Another five-star recruit, big man Simi Shittu, has also canceled an official visit to Arizona.
This all started after assistant coach Book Richardson was arrested by the FBI last week for his involvement in the corruption investigation.
O’Neal would be another great get for Kentucky
Shaq and Shaunie’s kid is a 6’9 big man ranked No. 24 in the class of 2018 by ESPN. He doesn’t have the same build as his dad, but he’s an athletic finisher around the rim and a quality rebounder.
Also of interest: O’Neal played on the same Cal Supreme with Bol Bol, a 7’2 center ranked as the No. 4 overall player in the class. Kentucky is heavily involved with Bol, as well.
It’s worth noting that, unlike Louisville and Auburn, none of Arizona’s recruits have officially decommitted yet. O’Neal, Quinerly, and four-star guard Brandon Williams all remain pledged to the program. We’ll see how long that lasts.