Forget the No. 1 pick, Shaquille O’Neal would rather build a team around this year’s No. 44 pick.
After Zion Williamson was not-so-shockingly selected by the Pelicans as the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Bol Bol out of the University of Oregon surprisingly fell into the second round.
He eventually ended up with the Nuggets. But before any of this happened, O’Neal backed the 7-2 center as his hypothetical franchise star.
“I don’t even think I go with Zion,” O’Neal said in a pre-draft interview. “Believe it or not, I’d go with Bol Bol. Him and Shareef (O’Neal) are friends and I’ve seen the potential what this kid can do.
“For example, when I was his coach in AAU, we never lost. He’s got it all. He’s (7-2), can shoot, dribble, can pass. Nobody really knows it because he was always hurt.”
Bol was projected as a preseason top-five pick and was one of just 20 players invited to the Green Room but his draft stock took a hit thanks to a season-ending injury he sustained after playing just nine games with the Ducks.
Reports surfaced leading up to the draft that Bol and his agent were against sharing his medical records with teams. This reportedly turned off a number of franchises.
Bol said he’s back to full health and has even returned to the court recently.
“My foot is 100 percent healed. I just recently started getting back on the court like a month ago, and I’ve slowly just been doing workouts,” he said, via ESPN. “My plan is hopefully play this season, but it’s up to my team if they want to just focus on me getting stronger.”
Bol averaged 21 points and 9.6 rebounds as a Duck and shot 52 percent from 3-point range in his time at Oregon.
While it’s hard to judge the full extent of what Bol can do after just nine games, O’Neal is putting his money on this big man.
See O’Neal’s full interview with Complex here: