Jody Demling

Four Star SG Alex O'Connell Talks Duke Recruiting

While the top targets in the class of 2017 have long been established, there’s always room for more players to emerge.  One such prospect is four star shooting guard Alex O’Connell who spoke with TDD to discuss his visit to Durham and his sit-down with Coach K.   Will an offer be forthcoming?

Watching you play Alex it’s clear that you play with a lot of confidence, what would you say is the source of that?

You know it’s just playing all my life. When I was younger I didn’t play as much, but these past few years with getting a chance to play a lot more, I figured why not make the most of it and be confident in what you are doing and play to the best of your ability.

What kind of things do you focus on when trying to improve as a player?

I work on everything really. Some days I’m in the gym getting plenty of shots up, other days I’m working on moves to the basket and other days I’m working on finishes at the rim. It’s just hard work day after day and then physically we do plenty of things, push ups, sit ups, but really when I make my college decision—that’s going to be a big thing with the schools is what schools have a really good history of not just developing guys skill wise, but also physically.

How much have you looked into that development program so far with any of the programs recruiting you?

Well, every time I’ve taken a visit—I have met with the strength and conditioning coach, so I look into very much.

Along those lines, what have you heard from those coaches that you have really liked?

No one specifically, but I’ve heard plenty of the individualized workout plans that are cool because it’s just for you, they are focused on you and what you need to do to get better with nutrition and weight-wise.

What programs have you had the opportunity to visit so far?

I took several visits in the month of June, there were a few just to name including Syracuse, Butler, Xavier, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Clemson and I met with all the strength and conditioning coaches there and they all had great things to say, Cincinnati as well. There will definitely be more visits in the future that we’ll figure out and line them up for after the second period.

Do you have any programs that are asking you to visit that you just haven’t been able to line up yet?

Yeah there are, but I just prefer not to share at this point.

There’s been reports that Duke is involved to a degree in your recruitment, anything you can share along those lines?

Yeah, yeah they are, they are showing heavy interest. They are very interested and Coach K said some very good things, so I think they are very interested and it’s a very intriguing option to me.

How did the communication process with them begin?

Actually I took a visit to Duke, so I got to sit down with Coach K for like an hour and a half and we had a great talk. I think the first time they saw me was in Indianapolis in the second session. The communication on the visit was good, they are really big on building relationships, they like to see a guy play a few times and they like to make the guy feel comfortable and feel at home which I think is important.

Have they at any point discussed the possibility of a scholarship offer in the future?

It may have been thrown around or lost in translation but I think if I play to the best of my ability, I think it could happen.

Did they discuss with you at all how they view you as a player in their program if you were to go there?

Yeah they said they have plenty of other players like me in the program, playmakers who cut and move without the ball, so they’ve said that’s an area that I could fit really well into their program.

You mentioned earlier that it’s “intriguing” that Duke is involved in your recruitment, what makes it “intriguing” for you?

Just the opportunity to play at in my opinion the best school in the country. I’m sure it’s intriguing to everyone else on the court, but it’s intriguing to me as well.

How much if at all did you watch them growing up?

Yeah, my dad actually went to Duke, so I’ve been watching them ever since I was as young as I could start watching TV.

How’s your dad handling helping you in your recruiting process in light that he played at Duke?

It’s not necessarily that he’s pushing me to go to Duke, he’s been through the process so he knows the ins and outs and the ups and downs, so he’s really been there with me the entire way helping me through the process. It’s a blessing to have him helping me. We both have our own opinions on schools, there’s no arguments though over any schools, we’re just collaborating and talking after every school visit or after any new school reaches out. Like I said, it’s a blessing to have his help.

So what’s your plan moving forward with next steps?

I’ll probably cut the list as hopefully more schools will be interested and newer to my recruitment.  I’ll hopefully take 3 or 4 officials but I’m not sure which schools yet, and then after I take those, I’ll potentially make my decision in late August, early September and then sign in the November signing period.

What makes you want to have that quick of a decision-making timeline?

Sometimes if you are the first 2017 player committed to that school, you can then help recruit other guys to that class and help get guys that fit well around you. Also, I’ll play my high school season real relaxed which will be great because my senior year will then be stress-free if I’ve made my decision.

What’s going to be the major criteria you will look at in deciding what the best fit is for you?

Something that’s very interesting to me is playing basketball at a school where basketball is THE sport there, it’s the main sport whether they have a football program or not. Academics will also be a big part of it in case basketball doesn’t work out—I’ll have a degree that will help me have a career after college. Also someplace where I feel real comfortable and where I have a really good comfort level with the coaches and the players, trust in the coaches is a big thing. Then I know style of play can be an over-used term, but you really need to see where you fit in terms of their style of play and positions. That’s something you have to do because if their style of play isn’t a fit for you, it’s not worth it to go there.

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