Alex O'Connell will look to carve out a role for himself off the bench. Duke men's basketball 2017-18 player preview: Alex O'Connell Alex O’Connell Year: Freshman Height: 6-foot-6 Position: Forward Game Breakdown: Alex O’Connell, a proficient scorer with some upside, was the first commit in Duke’s 2017 recruiting class and was ranked 87th in his class by ESPN 100 after a solid showing in the prestigious Nike EYBL league the spring of his junior year. Alex is a second generation Blue Devil basketball member as his father, David O’Connell, played at Duke from 1973-76. Alex’s smooth and compact release allows him to get off contested shots and makes him deadly from beyond the arc. His athleticism, which Duke fans will recall from the Countdown to Craziness dunk contest, allows him to rise up over defenders or finish well above the rim when necessary. O’Connell is already a gifted scorer, but will need to continue improving his ball-handling, especially as his role on the team grows in the coming years. Another area for improvement will be putting on sufficient weight to handle the physicality of ACC basketball. Role on the team: O’Connell will likely be the third or fourth man off the bench for the Blue Devils and provide reliable perimeter shooting and scoring when needed. With his length and versatility to play and guard both wing positions, he will likely see roughly 10 minutes of action in most games. Offensively, he will not be heavily relied on to create shots, but to space the floor and give Duke’s talented frontcourt room to work. NBA comparison: With his ability to use his athleticism to pull up and rise over defenders from and his ability to space the floor, O’Connell is reminiscent of Dion Waiters’ days as an offensive spark off the Syracuse bench, and more recently in the NBA with the Cavaliers and Thunder. Waiter’s ability to use his body control, stop on a dime and reliably knock down mid-range jumpers in an era when three-point shooting is increasingly prominent is something O’Connell excelled at in high school. That being said, neither of them shy away from the trey, either. Projected stats: 1.6 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 1.0 APG Stay tuned to the Blue Zone for our continuing player previews with freshman Jordan Tucker tomorrow. Previous player previewed: Jordan Goldwire.