Shareef O’Neal, son of Shaq, will transfer from UCLA Bruins basketball team

Shareef O’Neal announced Wednesday night his intentions to leave the UCLA Bruins basketball program.

O’Neal, a redshirt freshman forward, is the son of former Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O’Neal.

“My parents have always taught me that transparency is the best form of communication. It is in this spirit I announced today my departure from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA),” the 20-year-old wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.

“After meeting with Shareef on Tuesday, he told me that he plans to transfer,” first-year Bruins coach Mick Cronin said in a statement. “We fully support his decision and are wishing him all the best.”

O’Neal had been coming off the bench for the Bruins this year (10.2 minutes per game) and averaged 2.2 points with 2.9 rebounds.

In his message, he thanked UCLA fans for their support.

“I’m looking forward to the next chapter, whatever that may be. And a very special thanks to the UCLA fans for your continued support these past two years. You truly have been the strength that sustained me.”

O’Neal, who is 6-foot-9, redshirted during his first year at UCLA after he was diagnosed with a right anomalous coronary artery. Doctors cleared him to return to the court last March following open-heart surgery.

“I would like to give special thanks to Coach Steve Alford who recruited me here, Coach Cronin for developing me, and the awesome medical staff for giving me a second chance at fulfilling my dreams of playing on the next level,” he wrote. “A part of my heart will always be at UCLA figuratively and literally.”

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