O’Connell, who emerged in the spring on the EYBL circuit playing for Team United, picked up a scholarship offer from the Blue Devils on Tuesday and didn’t see a reason to wait.
“They checked all the boxes for me,” O’Connell said. “The basketball opportunity, it’s in the ACC and the coaching staff. My dad, Julian Barfield and I feel very comfortable and it’s like a home away from home. Playing for Coach K, the strength of schedule and the NBA exposure, Duke has it all.”
“It was the right school and it was where I felt comfortable,” O’Connell added. “Plus it's Duke basketball.”
When did O’Connell know Duke was the place for him?
“Once they started heavily recruiting me,” he said. “You know, Coach K calling and the rest of the staff coming to see me play.”
The Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton standout committed to Duke over scholarship offers from Arizona State, Louisville, Mississippi, Syracuse, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Tulane. Louisville is the only school he officially visited.
Although O’Connell’s father – Dave O’Connell – played at Duke from 1973 to 1976, he said he ultimately selected the Blue Devils because of the fit, not because of the connection.
“It didn't impact my decision,” he said. “It will be awesome to continue the legacy. I chose Duke because it was the right school.”
O’Connell averaged 14.1 points for Team United through 16 EYBL games and ranks as the No. 62 overall prospect in the 2017 rankings.
O’Connell is Duke’s first pledge of their 2017 class.