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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Shareef O’Neal To Sign Six-Figure Deal with G League Ignite

  • Shaquille O'Neal's son looks to get his career back on track after a series of medical issues factored into his going undrafted.
  • Several notable players — including Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, and Scoot Henderson — have played for Ignite.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA’s experimental minor league team just added another high-profile name.

Shareef O’Neal, son of basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal, is signing a six-figure contract with G League Ignite, per Shams Charania.

The younger O’Neal is looking to raise his profile after a series of medical problems derailed his college career and saw him go undrafted this year.

The 22-year-old had open-heart surgery while at UCLA in 2018, then foot injuries in 2020 and 2021 after transferring to his father’s alma mater, LSU. He averaged 4.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 10.9 minutes per game playing for the Lakers in the 2022 Summer League.

Ignite was established primarily to act as a developmental team for high school and international players who chose not to follow the traditional college basketball pipeline to the NBA. Several notable players have recently committed to the program.

  • Jalen Green was the first player to sign for Ignite in 2019; he was then drafted second overall by the Rockets in 2021 and named to the 2022 All-Rookie Team.
  • Jonathan Kuminga (7th, 2021) and Dyson Daniels (8th, 2022) were both international top-10 draft picks after beginning their pro careers with Ignite.
  • Scoot Henderson — widely considered one of the best recent high school prospects and a likely 2023 lottery pick — signed with Ignite in May 2021.

The specifics of many of the team’s contracts — including O’Neal’s — aren’t always reported. That said, Green and Henderson both got $500,000 per season to play for the minor league team.

Ignite’s primary competitor for talent is Overtime Elite. Many top prospects such as Matt and Ryan Bewley have signed $500,000 AAV deals with the upstart developmental league.

The traditional college basketball route still appeals to many top high school players — especially from a financial perspective. The NIL market is expected to top $1 billion in its second year.

Wherever they go, top basketball prospects have more options to cash in than ever before.

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