Royce O’Neale has became the first former Pioneer to play in the NBA since Byron Beck did it 41 years ago in 1976.
O’Neale, is a small forward, originally from Killeen, Texas. He was recruited by DU out of Harker Heights High School. He played two seasons for the Pioneers before petitioning the NCAA to transfer to Baylor in 2013. DU did not try to block the transfer because he wanted to be closer to his family and his ailing grandfather. He was immediately eligible to play for the Bears instead of sitting out the customary year. Many Pioneer fans suspected another incentive for the lightly recruited prep star’s move was the lure of playing in a power conference and improving his chances of having a professional career.
DU was 22-10 in O’Neale’s final season at DU when he played with a solid core of players that included fellow sophomores Chris Udophia and Brett Olson, senior Chase Hallam and freshman Jalen Love. O’Neale led the Pioneers in scoring for six games his final season. However, it was his passing that made his game extraordinary with his team-leading 111-assists. He averaged 11.2 points per game and a team-leading 5.5 rebounds per contest. The team made the NIT and defeated Ohio in the first round before falling to Maryland in the final minutes of the second round game at College Park, Maryland. Many Denver fans believe this team gave Denver one of their its best chances ever to make the NCAA playoffs.
The squad stumbled to a 15-16 record the year following the departure of O’Neale.
Following college, he was not selected in the 2015 draft. He played his first professional season in Germany where he averaged 8.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. After playing for the Golden State Warriors’ Summer League team in 2016, he signed with Spanish club for the 2016–17 season and earlier this summer signed with Lithuanian club before playing for the Utah Jazz Summer League team . It was there that he drew the team’s interest.
He’s played 3 minutes in two games this year for the Utah Jazz. No points yet, but he does have a rebound, half a steal and a foul.