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O'Neal doubted for a while if he had made the right decision to skip college—he watched with envy as good friend and fellow prep-to-pro draftee Kobe Bryant was enjoying a good rookie season—but he remained confident that the best had yet to come.Despite his optimism, O'Neal found it difficult to break into the first team the following season.
In the playoffs, Dunleavy opted to go with a more youthful lineup: before the trade deadline, he had acquired point guard Damon Stoudamire, as well as forwards Carlos Rogers and Walt Williams.
O'Neal, however, also faced great pressure off the court.
That same year, the District Attorney contemplated prosecuting him for rape after he and his 15-year-old girlfriend were found partially nude in bed together by her father.
He scored poorly on the SATs, and Glymph advised against him making the leap to the NBA.
But it was only a year before that another South Carolinian—future NBA All-Star Kevin Garnett—had made a seamless transition from high school to the NBA, and O'Neal thought he could emulate Garnett.