Me’Arah O’Neal, the daughter and youngest child of Shaq, has signed a national letter of intent with the Florida Gators. In a ceremony at her stepfather’s church in Texas, O’Neal chose Florida over seven other schools, including her father’s alma mater, LSU. “I went on the Florida visit, and I had a feeling that’s where I belonged. And that I was going to be most successful if I went to go play at Florida. I felt like I connected with Coach Kelly more than I connected with any of the other schools that recruited me. She really cares about me not just on the court but off the court. That’s important for me,” O’Neal said.
The #33 recruit in the 2024 class, O’Neal joins a promising Gators class that also includes #16 recruit Alivia McGill, the highest-ranked recruit Florida has ever landed in women’s basketball. Furthermore, O’Neal said that the choice to sign with the Gators was hers alone. “My family was just there to support me. I was pressuring myself to make a decision, but I learned I had to be patient. And I did make this decision on my own,” she said.
How Good Is Shaq’s Daughter?
Due to WNBA eligibility rules, O’Neal won’t be able to declare for the draft until 2028. However, she’s made it clear that it’s a step she wants to take. “I wanna make it to the WNBA. I wanna hold my own name, I wanna just be the best basketball player that I could be. Just reach my full potential and get a championship, make All-Star. Do all the big stuff and eventually make the Hall of Fame,” O’Neal said. Additionally, it’s a goal that her father believes is completely possible. “If she keeps it up, she will definitely be in the history books,” Shaq told ESPN.
It’s still unclear where O’Neal’s ceiling is. However, both her brothers and her coach think she’s one of the next big things for women’s basketball. “I’ve seen it [her game] develop tremendously. Because when we were kids, we’d always go at it. And like I said, I’d rough her up,” noted her brother Shaqir, who plays for Texas Southern. “We haven’t seen the best of her yet, like, not even close. I think we’re just scratching the surface. She’s just starting to blossom. … But we’ll see some amazing things,” added her private coach, ex-NBAer Moochie Norris.