Meet America’s Next Generation Of Shaqs

Shaquille O’Neal is retired. But a new wave of Shaqs — all born after the big man started his rise to fame at Louisiana State — are about to take his place in the sports world.

In the fall of 2008, the Shaq barrier was broken.

It had been 16 years since major college sports had seen a player named Shaq. To that point, there had only ever been one: Louisiana State’s Shaquille O’Neal.

Then came Shaqs No. 2 and 3, both college football players: Shaq Wilson at South Carolina, and Shaquille Belson at Louisiana-Monroe. Their parents were ahead of the curve. Both were born during Shaq’s freshman year at LSU.

But the real rise of people named “Shaq” coincides with O’Neal’s move to the NBA. It’s been 21 years since the 7-footer first entered the league, and kids born during the heart of Shaq’s Orlando Magic years are now just turning 18.

On the gridiron and the hardwood, we’re seeing the results of a mid-’90s Shaq boom. There are now 11 Shaqs in college hoops, and 12 in college football. In the next three years, there are 19 high-level football recruits named Shaq, per Rivals.com, and seven more in college basketball.

Keeping track of all these Shaqs isn’t easy. Here’s a helpful guide for the new generation:

3. TALLEST SHAQ

Shaquille Cleare — 6’9”, forward, Maryland

Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun / MCT

4. HEAVIEST SHAQ

Shaq Rowell — 308 lbs., defensive lineman, West Virginia

Justin K. Aller / Getty Images

5. LITTLEST SHAQ

Shaquille White-Miller — 5’9”, 176 lbs., guard, Texas-Arlington

Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram / MCT

6. SHAQ WITH THE MOST SHAQ-LIKE NICKNAME

Shaq Wilson — linebacker, South Carolina

Nickname: Diesel

Gerry Melendez/The State / MCT

7. SHAQ WHOSE PARENTS APPARENTLY LOVED NBA CENTERS FROM THE 1990s

Shaquille Mason — offensive lineman, Georgia Tech

Middle name: Olajuwon

Johnny Crawford/Atlanta Journal-Constitution / MCT

8. SHAQ WHO DOESN’T LIVE IN THE LOWER 48

Shaquan Rhoades — point guard, Eagle River H.S., Eagle River, Alaska

9. SHAQS WHO PLAY BEST WITH OTHER SHAQS

Shaquil Barrett, linebacker, and Shaq Bell, defensive back — teammates at Colorado State

10. SHAQ WITH THE BEST ADAPTATION OF THE ORIGINAL SHAQ NAME

Shaquery Wilson — wide receiver, Coral Gables H.S., Coral Gables, Florida

11. SHAQ WHO MOST SHOOTS FREE THROWS LIKE SHAQ

Shaquille Thomas — forward, Cincinnati

A 52.9% free throw shooter.

12. SHAQ MOST LIKELY TO MAKE THE NBA

Shaq Goodwin — 6’9”, 246 lbs., forward, Memphis

A top 50 recruit coming out of high school. Averaging 8.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game as a freshman.

The Commercial Appeal, Mark Weber / AP

13. SHAQ MOST LIKELY TO SHATTER A BACKBOARD SHAQ-STYLE

Shaquille Johnson — forward, Auburn

14. SHAQ DESTINED TO BE THE NEXT BIG SHAQ

Shaq Thompson — safety, Washington

A high school All-American with 74 tackles, 2 sacks and 3 interceptions as a freshman. Earned honorable mention All-Pac 12 honors.

Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images

15. NON-SHAQ MOST LIKELY TO BE AN ADVERSARY TO FUTURE SHAQS

Kobe Eubanks — Shooting guard, American Heritage H.S., Plantation, Florida.

He’s from the class of 2014 — the class that was born the year Kobe Bryant entered in the NBA. The Future Mambas are coming for you, Future Shaqs.

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