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O'Connell provided an offensive spark off the bench for Duke.

Duke men's basketball 2017-18 player review: Alex O'Connell



Alex O'Connell

  • Year: Freshman
  • Height: 6-foot-6
  • Position: Guard
  • This year's statline: 3.3 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 0.5 APG
  • The Blue Zone's projected statline: 1.6 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 1.0 APG

Season breakdown: 

Entering the season as somewhat of an unknown quantity, O'Connell broke out to be a human energy drink off the bench for the Blue Devils. 

The lanky freshman played 29 minutes on a huge stage in the PK80 Invitational in November against Texas, helping Duke gut out an overtime win despite Grayson Allen fouling out. A 3-point sharpshooter, O'Connell brought a strong offense repertoire along with energy when the Blue Devils needed a boost. 

O'Connell's playing time peaked in the middle of conference play, in which he averaged nearly 12 minutes per game from Jan. 10 to Feb. 11.  He burst out with 13 points against Wake Forest and 11 in a February loss to North Carolina behind hot 3-point shooting, finishing the season making 48.9 percent of his tries from deep. 

His minutes fell off a bit as the season dragged on, but the Roswell, Ga. native still was a part of the rotation. Although he was a force on offense, he struggled a bit on defense, posting the team's second-worst defensive rating. 

Results relative to expectations:

Duke didn't need O'Connell to be a star, or anything close to it, but he filled an important role and developed faster than most would have expected. Heading into the season, he wasn't expected to see the floor, especially with Jordan Tucker projected to be one of the team's top backcourt bench options. 

But Tucker never saw the court, and O'Connell grew up quickly before Blue Devil fans' eyes. Without O'Connell's emergence, Duke's bench would have been extremely thin.  Heading into the 2018-19 season, O'Connell should see an increased role as one of the few returning players with experience, provided that he improves his defense.

Check back tomorrow for a review of Jordan Goldwire's season. The Blue Zone has already reviewed Grayson Allen, Marvin Bagley III, Marques Bolden, Wendell Carter Jr. and Javin DeLaurier's campaigns.


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