LSU Basketball: Looking back at the Tigers career of Shaquille O’Neal

One of the greatest big men to ever play the game of basketball, Shaquille O’Neal may largely be remembered by his success in the professional game where he holds a resume that includes being a four-time NBA champion and a 15-time All-Star. A Hall of Famer whose time in the sport of basketball also includes one of the most impressive collegiate resumes that you will find, here is a look back at the LSU Basketball career of the man known to fans as “Shaq.”

Looking back at the LSU Basketball career of Shaquille O’Neal

An accomplished prep player, O’Neal originally came to LSU Basketball back in 1989 out of Cole High School in Texas. As you’d expect as well, O’Neal would become an instant-impact player for the Tigers as a freshman, posting a memorable 1989-90 season during year one in Baton Rouge.

A First Team All-SEC and SEC All-Freshman selection, O’Neal would average a combined 13.9 PPG, 12 RPG (No. 1 in SEC), and 3.6 BPG (No. 1 in SEC) as a freshman in 1989-90, while also shooting a combined 57.3% from the field. O’Neal would also rank first in the SEC in a few other statistical categories such as total rebounds (385) and blocks (115).

As a sophomore, O’Neal would take a massive jump in production during the 1990-91 season, a year in which he averaged 27.6 PPG, 14.7 RPG (No. 1 nationally), and 5 BPG on 62.8% shooting from the field, each of which were tops in the SEC. As you’d expect with a stat line such as that, O’Neal would be named both the 1990-91 National and SEC Player of the Year, as well as a consensus First Team All-American, First Team All-SEC, and SEC All-Defense.

Coming off that career 1990-91 season, O’Neal would go-on to play one more year in Baton Rouge in 1991-92, averaging 24.1 PPG (No. 2 in SEC), 14 RPG (No. 1 in SEC), and 5.2 BPG (No. 1 in SEC and nationally) on 61.5% shooting. Named the SEC Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, O’Neal would also receive honors such as First Team All-SEC, SEC All-Defense, and a consensus First Team All-American, while also leading the conference for the third straight year in total rebounds and blocks, along with leading the SEC and nation with 294 field goals.

A player with an impressive collegiate resume, O’Neal would conclude his LSU Basketball career by averaging a combined 21.6 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, and 4.6 BPG across three seasons in Baton Rouge, along with a 61 FG% for his Tigers career. O’Neal currently holds the SEC lead in a few notable statistical categories dating back to 1985-86 as well such as total rebounds, RPG, and BPG, while also ranking top five in PPG, total blocks, FG%, and field goals.

At the conclusion of the 1991-92 season, O’Neal would enter the 1992 NBA Draft where the LSU center would be selected with the No. 1 overall pick by the Orlando Magic. A player whose collegiate career was one of the best the SEC has ever seen, O’Neal’s professional career was just as good, one that has the former LSU star cemented as one of the greatest centers in NBA history.

Playing 20 career seasons from 1992-93 to 2010-11, O’Neal spent time with a total of six NBA teams during that span (Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics), averaging a combined 23.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 2.3 BPG for his career. A two-time NBA scoring champion, O’Neal also led the league in FG% a total of 10 times during his career.

Having been inducted to the Hall of Fame back in 2016 as well, listed below are a few of O’Neal’s accomplishments during his NBA career:

  • Hall of Fame
  • 15-time NBA All-Star
  • 4-time NBA Champion
  • 14-time All-NBA selection
  • 3-time NBA Finals MVP
  • 1999-00 NBA MVP

A player whose collegiate and professional resumes are as impressive as you will find in the game of basketball, where does O’Neal rank among the most accomplished all-time athletes in both LSU and SEC history?