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After graduating from high school, O'Neal studied business at Louisiana State University. O'Neal left LSU early to pursue his NBA career, but continued his education even after becoming a professional player.He had first met Dale Brown, LSU's men's basketball coach, years earlier in Europe. The Orlando Magic drafted O'Neal with the 1st overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft.He quickly became one of the best centers in the league, winning Rookie of the Year in 1992–93 and leading his team to the 1995 NBA Finals.After four years with the Magic, O'Neal signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Despite this, the Rockets, led by future Hall-of-Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, swept the series in four games.
He was named the 1993 NBA Rookie of the Year and became the first rookie to be voted an All-Star starter since Michael Jordan in 1985.
The Magic finished 41–41, winning 20 more games than the previous season; however, the team ultimately missed the playoffs by virtue of a tie-breaker with the Indiana Pacers.
He ranks 8th all-time in points scored, 6th in field goals, 14th in rebounds, and 8th in blocks.
Largely due to his ability to dunk the basketball, O'Neal also ranks third all-time in field goal percentage (58.2%).On more than one occasion during the year, Sports Illustrated writer Jack Mc Callum overheard O'Neal saying, "We've got to get [head coach] Matty [Guokas] out of here and bring in [assistant] Brian [Hill]." O'Neal improved his scoring average to 29.4 points (second in the league to David Robinson) while leading the NBA in field goal percentage at 60%.