SAN ANTONIO – The Cole Cougars boys basketball team has an NBA Hall of Fame member in its corner. The great Shaquille O'Neal gave the team a shoutout ahead of its UIL Class 3A state semfinal with Dallas Madison.
In the video, posted on Twitter by Cole's boys basketball team, O'Neal starts off by introducing himself.
"Coach Noe Cantu and the Cole Cougars, Hi, I'm Shaquille O'Neal, state champion 1989."
O'Neal led the 1989 Cole Cougars to a 36-0 season and the UIL 3A state championship. Cole went 68-1 during O'Neal's two seasons, winning the state championship his senior season.
O'Neal, who played for six teams during his 19-year NBA career, winning four NBA Chamionships, told the Cougars he's behind them.
"Do it for San Antonio. Do it for the Cole Cougars," Shaq said. "I love you guys no matter what."
During the 1:14 long video, Shaq praised Cole center Vince Iwuchukwu, a 6-10 freshman from Nigeria who is known as "Baby Shaq" because of similarities. Iwuchukwu, like O'neal, is a military kid. Iwuchukwu towers over many high school hoopsters, and he can score and rebound like Shaq did during his days at Cole.
"Baby Shaq, I like your game baby. But I don't want you to be Shaq. I want you to be yourself. I want you you to better than Shaq."
The NBA legend ended the video with a fist pump and more words of encouragement, "Love you guys, lets go!"
Cole (34-5) will play Dallas Madison (19-15) in the Class 3A semifinals, Thursday 3:00 p.m. at the Alamodome.