Shaquille O’Neal’s youngest daughter isn’t following in his footsteps, though she is remaining in conference.
Me’Arah O’Neal, the youngest child of the basketball Hall of Famer and TNT analyst, committed to play women’s basketball at Florida officially on Sunday.
“I went on the Florida visit, and I had a feeling that’s where I belonged,” Me’Arah said, . “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 [Rae Finley] 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.”
Me’Arah, a 6-foot-4 forward, is the No. 33 recruit in . The 17-year-old had several other notable offers to play next season, including at LSU — which is both the defending national champions and where her father played in college before his 19 season career in the league.
Shaq and Me’Arah visited LSU together last spring, which Shaq told ESPN was “one of the best moments of his life.” Me’Arah, though, made her college decision on her own — something that Shaq was all about.
“Believe it or not, I tried to stay out of it. … What I did tell her is, ‘Go where you’re needed, not where you’re wanted. Because if you go where you’re wanted and they got other people like you, may take a while,’’ he said. “I want [my kids] to have their own journey, have their own experience.”
Me’Arah will join Alvia McGill in Florida’s 2024-25 recruiting class. McGill was the No. 16-ranked recruit in the class, and is Florida’s highest-ranked recruit ever. The Gators are 2-0 so far this season, Finley’s third with the program. The Gators made it to the WNIT’s Elite Eight, but fell to Bowling green.
Shaq’s other children have all played collegiately, too. Shareef played at both UCLA and LSU, and most recently played in the G League. He missed his freshman season with the Bruins, however, after . Me’Arah’s other brother, Shaqir, currently plays at Texas Southern, and her sister, Amirah, played at both LSU and Texas Southern.