The photos and videos confirmed what Chad Beeten said he could not.
Images and clips of Shareef O’Neal playing on the Crossroads boys basketball team indicate he’s planning to suit up for the Santa Monica private school this coming season, a high-profile acquisition for a program with a rich history on the hardwood.
The son of former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal is transferring to Crossroads after two seasons at Windward, a rival institution in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles.
Beeten, the coach who was hired in May to run the Roadrunners’ program, said school policy prevents him from commenting on specific players for the time being. Multiple media outlets have reported O’Neal’s relocation.
Beeten said Crossroads competed in two summer tournaments last month, one at Loyola Marymount University and the other in Westchester. He declined to comment on O’Neal’s participation in the exhibitions.
“We had some good and some bad in the summer tournaments, and I’m pleased with the progress but I’m not satisfied,” Beeten said. “We competed and we played hard. That’s the main thing I was focused on.”
Beeten said he has led individual and team workouts since he arrived in early May but hadn’t yet held a full practice as of July 1.
Beeten arrived at Crossroads to replace Daryl Roper after a successful stint in Las Vegas, where he guided Clark High School to three Nevada state titles. His teams were 132-44 overall in six seasons.
Beeten is working to help the Roadrunners improve on the 12-17 record they posted last season, when they reached the CIF Southern Section quarterfinals in Division 4A. Their campaign was highlighted by a tournament upset of public-school rival Santa Monica, the eventual section champion in Division 1A.
Graduation took a toll on Beeten’s incoming roster, which is missing an outstanding senior class that included three small-college prospects in Nicky Shapiro (Tufts), Henry Ward (Grinnell) and Ethan Zakarin (Kenyon).
But O’Neal figures to make an immediate impact.
A 6-foot-9 junior with signs of the powerful agility that made his father such a dominant force early in his playing career, O’Neal is joining a program whose alumni include former NBA players Baron Davis and Austin Croshere.
Over the last month, Beeten on Twitter has shared some of O’Neal’s tweets on his own page.
O’Neal has been active on the social media site, posting a list of things he hopes to accomplish in basketball in the coming years.
“I was never really good at basketball until I turned 15,” he wrote recently. “Kids ask me how to get better and I just say you have to want it. I was determined … I’m 16 now and still have plenty of flaws to overcome and have tons of room for improvement! I’m nowhere near my full ability.”
On June 23, the day of the NBA Draft, O’Neal decided not to follow the annual spectacle live. He had other plans.
“Could be watching the draft,” he tweeted, “but I’m going to go workout so that can be me one day.”
People will be watching O’Neal away from the basketball court as well. He and his family will be featured in a new VH1 reality show whose premiere is scheduled to air July 17.