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Shaq's son Shareef O'Neal leaving UCLA basketball program

Shaq's son Shareef O'Neal leaving UCLA basketball program
Shareef O'Neal (L) is the oldest son of NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal, while son Shaqir O'Neal (R) plays basketball in high school. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Shareef O'Neal, the son of NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal, is leaving UCLA's basketball program.

O'Neal announced his decision to transfer from the Bruins Wednesday night on social media. The redshirt freshman committed to UCLA in February 2018, after de-committing from Arizona.

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The former four-star high school prospect sat out his first season after being diagnosed with a heart problem. He had open heart surgery, before being cleared to return to play in March.

"My parents have always taught me that transparency is the best form of communication. It is in this spirit that I announced today my departure from the University of California Los Angeles," O'Neal wrote on Twitter and Instagram.

O'Neal -- who averaged 2.2 points and 2.9 rebounds off the bench -- also thanked UCLA coach Mick Cronin, former coach Steve Alford, the Bruins medical staff and fans for assisting him during his time at the school.

"A part of me will always be at UCLA figuratively and literally," O'Neal said.

O'Neal said he was "looking forward to the next chapter" but did not announce his next destination.

Cronin met with O'Neal on Tuesday. The first-year UCLA coach said the program "fully supports" O'Neal's decision to leave the program and wishes him the best.

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