LSU Short Story
Shaq Comes to LSU
Shaq Uncut: My Story, Shaquille O'Neal with Jackie MacMullan (2011)
Shaquille O'Neal has just started his freshman year at LSU in 1989.
It wasn't long before everybody knew me. I was making new friends every day. I loved college. I fit in at LSU. For the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged.
I also knew I had to do well in school or my father would kill me. Even worse, my momma would be disappointed in me, and I never wanted to disappoint her.
I took a public speaking class in my freshman year, and I was a little nervous about it because I had a stuttering problem. I asked Coach Brown to critique it for me. I did my speech and then I asked him, "Can you come to class while I do this?" He said, "I'll be happy to, Shaquille." The next day I showed up at class and there was Coach, in the back of the room, giving me the thumbs-up.
I had the highest GPA on the team in my freshman season. I think if you ask my mother, she'll tell you that was one of her proudest moments. ...
I spent most of my freshman year at LSU in foul trouble. It was really frustrating. I couldn't really understand how it was that I would take a shot with three guys hanging on me and there was no whistle, but the minute I got near anyone they were calling stuff on me. My dad always taught me, "When you get the ball, be aggressive with it." It seemed like every time I took his advice, they'd call me for charging."

Freshman Shaquille O'Neal
Coach Brown used to go crazy over that kind of stuff. I averaged only 28 minutes a game as a freshman because I spent so much time on the bench in foul trouble.
When I got there in my freshman year, I just wanted to fit in. I was still working on my game. I told Coach Brown, "Don't worry about me. I don't need to score. Let those other guys do that. I'll just play defense and block shots."
That was the first and last time I ever said that.
I still averaged 13.9 points and 12 rebounds a game, and I blocked a ton of shots - 115 of them. That was the first time someine in the SEC had ever gone over 100. ...
We had some big wins that season. We were an up-tempo team, so we always had high-scoring games. We beat Texas 124-113, and I had a triple-double. Same thing against Loyola Marymount, when we beat them 148-141 in overtime. It was an incredible game. Loyola's star Hank Gathers scored 48 points in 38 minutes. Both teams were just flying up and down the floor. I had a pretty good game myself - 20 points, 24 rebounds, and 12 blocks.
About a month later, Hank Gathers collapsed and died in the middle of a basketball game in Los Angeles. We were shocked when we heard that. We were saying, "But we just saw him ..." For a couple of weeks, we all kind of stopped in our tracks. It put everything in perspective.
But, us being kids, it wasn't long until we were back to goofing off and partying and having fun and loving our lives as LSU Tigers.

O'Neal and Vernel Singleton guard Hank Gathers of Loyola Marymount.