O'Neal: NCAA players should stay more than 1 year


O'Neal: NCAA players should stay more than 1 year

GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) After being introduced to the NCAA convention as Dr. Shaquille O'Neal, the four-time NBA champion jokingly asked that his scholarly resume be repeated before he opened with a public confession to the group's president.

``From 1989-92 I committed numerous NCAA infractions,'' O'Neal said, referencing his time as an LSU player. ``I used to get a free bowl of jambalaya right before every game.''

NCAA President Mark Emmert laughed, saying that the statute of limitations had run out on that.

That was the start of a more than 30-minute question-and-answer session Emmert conducted with O'Neal during the keynote luncheon Wednesday on the opening day of the NCAA convention.

O'Neal said earning his doctoral degree in education, which he received last May from Barry College in Florida, was harder than anything he ever did athletically. He also talked about the importance of education, saying in the age of one-and-done basketball players that they should have to stay in school at least three years before going pro, such as the rule for NCAA football players.

``A lot of guys do it because of their financial situation and they need to do it. That's the only way to provide a better means for their family. So when you look at it from that aspect, I understand it,'' said O'Neal, who then told Emmert that if up to him the rule would ``probably say three-and-done.''

For players who do leave early, O'Neal's advice is to make sure they go back and finish their education. He said it's not a matter of how much money they will make, but how much they're going to keep.

O'Neal, who called his three years as an LSU player the best time of his life, recalled spending ``$1 million in about 30 minutes'' after he got his first check as the NBA's first overall pick in 1992. He quickly realized he wasn't as smart as he thought about money despite a few business and accounting classes.

Emmert is the former LSU chancellor who in 2000 presented O'Neal with his diploma for general studies after the NBA player had gone back to complete his undergraduate work. O'Neal added an online MBA from the University of Phoenix in 2005, and soon after that began work on his doctoral degree.

O'Neal said he always promised his family he would get his degree from LSU. He then challenged himself more and kept educating himself to help with his business pursuits, which today include owning 42 health and fitness clubs and 155 hamburger restaurants.

``I'm sure the aura of doing business with Shaquille O'Neal was there,'' he said. ``I needed them to know that they were doing business with a businessman, not doing business with an athlete.''

He also thought it was good for his six children to ``see me educate and challenge myself.''

Having O'Neal as the keynote speaker was somewhat of a departure for the NCAA, coning a year after U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was the speaker. The former basketball player was entertaining, insightful and humorous during his appearance.

Emmert will deliver his state of the NCAA remarks Thursday.

The NCAA Board of Directors meets Saturday, the convention's final day. The board is expected to approve a sweeping set of changes that will include eliminating rules about how coaches communicate with recruits, how often they communicate with recruits, and allow college and high school players to accept money for travel expenses and prize money at non-scholastic events.

Along with questions posed to O'Neal by Emmert, there were some submitted by student-athletes in attendance.

When asked about star athletes being role models, O'Neal said he preferred the term ``real'' model.

``A lot of people, they play roles. When you play a role, and it catches up with them, we all figure out they're not who we thought they were. So with me, what you see is what you get,'' O'Neal said. ``As we're seeing now, there's a lot of people out there selling a lot of fake products. You're hearing people confess. ... To me, image is reality.''

There were no direct references to anybody in particular, but O'Neal's comments came the same week disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong told Oprah Winfrey in an interview to air later this week that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France. His confession comes after a decade of denial.

O'Neal went on to say that athletes have the responsibility to be good role models.

``I don't think you get a choice,'' O'Neal said. ``I think we do have a social responsibility to do the right things, say the right things and behave correctly.''

Asked about who he looked up to, O'Neal talked about Magic Johnson for ``what he did on and off the court'' and remembered being told by Johnson as an 18-year-old kid that sports wouldn't last forever and it was important to get the education to move into life after basketball. He mentioned Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Donald Trump as smart businessmen he watched.

Since earning his doctorate last year, O'Neal has mentioned going to law school and owning his own firm.

``That's my smart guy talking,'' he said, smiling. ``I thought about it, but probably not.''

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

The Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Important victory: Saturday night's game between the Wizards and Pacers had several layers of playoff implications on the line and it was Washington who rose to the occasion and showed the urgency commensurate for the stakes.

By beating the Pacers, the Wizards locked up the season series between the teams, two games to one. That gives them the tiebreaker for playoff seeding if the teams finish the regular season with the same record. That could very well prove paramount. As of now, the Wizards and Pacers have the same record (40-30) with 12 games to go.

The season series advantage means the Wizards are above the Pacers in the standings despite having the same record. They moved into fourth place in the East with the win and the Cavs slotted back into third. There will likely be a lot more movement as these next few weeks play out, but the Wizards now hold an important edge over the Pacers.

The win also pushed the Wizards to 14-8 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. Wall could return this coming week or the week after and the Wizards have more than stayed afloat during his absence.

The Wizards' magic number to make the playoffs is now just five. 


Sato went off: The Wizards jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter mostly thanks to a hot start from Tomas Satoransky, who scored the Wizards' first five points and had 10 by the end of the first quarter.

Satoransky's floater was automatic. He dropped in several in the lane from all different angles. Satoransky was practicing the same shots, floaters off each foot, the day before in practice and it paid off.

It was a well-rounded night for Satoransky. In addition to his 12 points, he also had eight assists and five rebounds, including this one to find Marcin Gortat for the dunk:

Gortat came up big: Speaking of Gortat, the Wizards' big man had one of his best games of the season. He poured in 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists a steal and a block. Gortat shot 6-for-8, consistently having his way on the block.

The Pacers were without two of their best big men in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis and Gortat took advantage of that. He was way too much for Al Jefferson.

The Pacers tried to roll with small-ball lineups using Trevor Booker and Thaddeus Young as their big men, but it didn't work. Gortat was too big for them and his teammates did a great job finding him for open looks.

Gortat's 18 points were his most since Jan. 3 when he had a season-high 21 against the Knicks. Lately, Gortat has seen his minutes dwindle with the increased role for Ian Mahinmi, so Saturday night must have felt good for the Polish Machine.


Bojan held in check: Bojan Bogdanovic, who spent part of last season with the Wizards, was a major factor in the first two matchups between Washington and the Pacers this season. He had 20 points in one game and 29 in another, each time getting hot from three.

The Wizards, though, made some adjustments in this one and held Bo Buckets in check. He didn't make his first shot until nearly the midway point of the second quarter and it was only because Kelly Oubre, Jr. (16 points, 18 minutes) lost his balance. Oubre stumbled backward, giving Bogdanovic a split second to get off an open three. That was the only shot he hit in the first half as he began the game 1-for-4.

Oubre did a good job harrassing Bogdanovic and not giving him space on the premiter. Otto Porter (eight points) and Bradley Beal (19 points) did as well. Both Porter and Beal stripped the ball out of Bogdanovic's hands early in the third quarter. Midway through the third, Bogdanovic got past Porter only to be called for an offensive foul on a collision with Gortat. All in all, it was a frustrating night for Bogdanovic, who had 11 points, three below his season average.

Bogdanovic is a very good shooter and when he's hot can alter games. But when you take his shots away, there's not much else he can do to hurt you. The Wizards did a good job taking away his strengths and making others beat them. Not having to focus on Turner and Sabonis certainly helped. 

Sessions is still in the rotation: It turns out those five games for Ramon Sessions over the course of his second 10-day contract weren't just an audition. Now that he has been signed for the rest of the season, Sessions is still getting the nod over Tim Frazier as the backup point guard.

Sessions logged 18 minutes and even played alongside Satoransky and Jodie Meeks in the fourth quarter. The Wizards had a sizable lead and head coach Scott Brooks decided to experiment with his lineups. That is something to keep in mind for when Wall comes back. Once he does, Sessions will be the third point guard and likely rarely see the court. But if they see something they like about him at shooting guard, that could open the door for more playing time possibilities.

Up next: The Wizards have three off-days before their next game. That will be on Wednesday when they head to San Antonio to face the Spurs. Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. with Wizards HangTime.

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