The Syracuse basketball recruiting efforts for 2017 took a bit of a blow on Friday afternoon when priority shooting guard Alex O’Connell announced his commitment to Duke. But believe it or not, there may be a bit of a silver lining. There’s a very real chance that O’Connell’s pledge to Coach K could help Syracuse’s position with Jordan Tucker.
O’Connell, a sweet shooting, 6-foot-6 guard from Georgia, was pretty much expected to pick Duke as soon as he earned his offer. After all, the kid’s dad played for Duke. Kids don’t always follow in their dad’s footsteps (see – potentially – Thompson, Ethan), but it happens more often than not.
But in a way, O’Connell committing to Duke could help Syracuse land another one of its top targets in 2017 with Tucker. The 6-foot-7 small forward, who just recently announced a transfer from his high school in New York to – ironically – Georgia, announced his top eight schools recently. Among those schools was Duke, which is the only program yet to offer out of his final eight. Speculation was that Tucker has just been waiting on a Duke offer.
A Duke offer which, at this point, may no longer be on the table, thanks to O’Connell’s commitment. After all, the two players have a very similar skill set. Both are around the same size (though Tucker is much thicker), and both are long range snipers with pretty good athleticism. Tucker is more of a small forward than O’Connell physically, but otherwise their games aren’t particularly far apart.
So with O’Connell choosing the Dukies, it could theoretically scratch Tucker off of Duke’s board, since it’s very realistic that O’Connell is taking the same spot in the class Tucker may have occupied. Plus, it’s been indicated to me that O’Connell had risen up the Syracuse board and was occupying a spot slightly ahead of Tucker. Now that he’s no longer an option, Tucker’s place on the board is, naturally, higher.
Syracuse is obviously in desperate need of wing players in the class of 2017. Tucker has been high on the Orange for a long time, and the general feeling is that if Syracuse pushes, he’s there for the taking. There’d be plenty of playing time available immediately, which is always enticing to any player jumping from high school to college.
While it stings to lose out on a player like O’Connell, at the end of the day, it may wind up helping the Orange with another prospect down the road. So like I said: silver lining, I guess?