Shareef O'Neal, the son of Shaquille O'Neal and a four-star recruit at UCLA, will miss the entire 2018-19 season after doctors discovered a heart ailment that will require surgery.
O'Neal told TMZ Sports he "felt funny" during team workouts this summer so UCLA's doctors made him wear a heart monitor so he could push a button whenever he wanted to alert them. He said he pressed the button during one summer practice and doctors later discovered the heart ailment that will force him to miss the upcoming season.
He said he expects to return after a medical redshirt season in 2018-19.
"So, the other day during routine checkup, we found a medical issue dealing with my heart," O'Neal said in the video. "And thank God UCLA medical staff found it early, but causing this I will not be playing this season and I will be a medical redshirt. But during this time off, I'll be off for a while, I'll be focusing on academics, my health, of course, and I'll just be observing to be the best player I can be next year."
O'Neal had originally committed to Arizona but switched to UCLA following an ESPN report linking Sean Miller to a pay-for-play arrangement involving Deandre Ayton.
"Freshman Shareef O'Neal will be sidelined for the 2018-19 season (medical)," the school said in a statement. "He will remain enrolled in class and on the men's basketball team during this redshirt year. The UCLA men's basketball program completely supports Shareef and his family as he gets this issue resolved."
Per team spokesman Alex Timiraos, the school will not release any additional statements on O'Neal.
In high school, O'Neal had started to outgrow his father's shadow as a talented prep player who received offers from a multitude of blueblood programs and as a social media star who boasts 1.4 million followers on Instagram.
In the TMZ Sports video, O'Neal stressed that he will return.
"I know it's an injury that requires surgery, so I'll be having heart surgery and I'll be out a couple months and after that I'll be back," he said in the video. "A lot of people are asking if it's career-ending. The answer is absolutely not. Just a little bump in the road. ... During my rehab, I'll be attending my classes and being a normal student. But that's what's going on, and I'd like to thank UCLA, my family, my teammates and everyone who supports me in this decision."
O'Neal also admitted the news has been difficult to endure.
"I'm a little down," he said. "I feel like I was at my peak of basketball going into my freshman year and coming out of the state championship of high school. I felt like I was at the top of my game right now. Just trying to get better, getting stronger but then this happened. I'm just doing my best to focus on my health right now. "