He confirmed the news Friday on his Twitter account, commenting on a story from TMZ.
“Blessed to be here living today, one of those moments on the court could’ve been my last … I will be back basketball world,” O’Neal tweeted. “Just wait on me. I’ll miss you this year but you will always be with me.”
O’Neal told TMZ that he was having a routine checkup with doctors when the UCLA medical staff found a medical issue dealing with his heart. He will be a medical redshirt.
He plans to return to the court next year. He will have heart surgery and will be out for “a couple months.”
“Freshman Shareef O’Neal will be sidelined for the 2018-19 season [medical],” UCLA said in a statement. “He will remain enrolled in class and on the men’s basketball team during this redshirt year.”
“[UCLA] completely supports Shareef and his family as he gets this issue resolved.”
He will attend classes during his rehab. O’Neal, 18, was a top recruit this offseason, coming in at No. 32 on the 2018 ESPN 100 high school basketball player rankings.
The 6-foot-10, 220-pound power forward had 29 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks in the state championship as a senior at Crossroads School in Santa Clara, Calif. He posted 27 points per game during his senior season.
“I will not be able to participate in sports this year but I will be back in no time,” O’Neal posted on Instagram. “I want to thank God for looking out for me, I want to thank UCLA, my teammates and most importantly my family. This is just a small bump on the road and I gotta push through it.”
“I am very down about not being able to do sport I love .. I really wanted this year I felt like I was at my best but this is just a minor setback. My health is most important over everything. Like I said, I will be back. Thank you.”