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
4. HEAVIEST SHAQ
Shaq Rowell — 308 lbs., defensive lineman, West Virginia
5. LITTLEST SHAQ
Shaquille White-Miller — 5’9”, 176 lbs., guard, Texas-Arlington
6. SHAQ WITH THE MOST SHAQ-LIKE NICKNAME
Shaq Wilson — linebacker, South Carolina
7. SHAQ WHOSE PARENTS APPARENTLY LOVED NBA CENTERS FROM THE 1990s
Shaquille Mason — offensive lineman, Georgia Tech
Middle name: Olajuwon
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.
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.
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.