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After a long wait, LSU Men's Basketball started their season last night against the Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Cougars. LSU won the Thanksgiving night contest, 94-81.

For the Tigers, players like Darius Days and Cameron Thomas filled up the stat sheet, with Days scoring 24 points, and Thomas leading the team with 27. While some of the other recognizable names also hit double digits, with Javonte Smart scoring 10 points, and Trendon Watford adding 13.

But a player who only scored three points was getting most of the attention leading into the opening game for LSU.

Shareef O'Neal had 5 rebounds to go along with his 3 points in his LSU debut. But it wasn't until earlier this month if anyone knew whether or not O'Neal would play in the game.

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Apple

O'Neal is the son of former LSU legend, and NBA all-time-great Shaquille O'Neal. He started his college basketball career at UCLA, where he saw action in 13 games last season. The redshirt freshman only averaged 2.2 points per game, and 2.9 rebounds per game for the Bruins. Early in his UCLA career, Shareef had to undergo heart surgery before he ever played a game for the Bruins.

But another issue at UCLA was with the coaches. Shareef was recruited by Steve Alford while he was the coach at UCLA, but by the time Shareef took the floor for the team, Alford was gone, and Mick Cronin was the coach now. UCLA's Cronin said that he supported the decision.

That led to Shareef coming to the school that his father dominated at, LSU. But it wasn't a lock that Shareef would be playing this year (to be fair, it wasn't a lock anyone would be with the pandemic). But with the waiver granted earlier this month, it allowed him to take the court last night.

It's really another recruiting win for LSU Head Coach Will Wade. Not only does Shareef bring some attention to the program with his lineage, but he was a 4 star recruit coming out of high school in California. While in high school, Shareef was a defensive presence around the rim, blocking tons of shots. But he hasn't been able to translate that yet to the college level. Perhaps under Wade's guidance, we will see that power unleashed.

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