By: Tom Ballato
Stanford University lands 6-foot-2 point guard Michael O’Connell as the fifth member of their recruiting class.
O’Connell began his high school career at Chaminade High School in Mineola, New York. He played football, basketball, and lacrosse at Chaminade, but gave up football after his sophomore year to focus on the other two sports. O’Connell was a three-time Under Armour Lacrosse All-American in 2016, 2017, and 2018. He was also part of the 2019 NSCHSAA Championship team at Chaminade.
After three years at Chaminade, O’Connell transferred to Blair Academy in New Jersey to play basketball and lacrosse. “The opportunity came up to play at Blair and my coach at Chaminade, Coach Paul, said when this opportunity comes you really can’t pass it up because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. That was one of the big factors in going to Blair,” said O’Connell.
O’Connell is a tough point guard that likes to get his teammates involved. He was a floor general at Blair who likes to play hard, give it his all, and score too. This past season, he averaged 18 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals per game for Blair Academy. O’Connell was two weeks into the lacrosse season before it was cut short due to the coronavirus.
He committed to play lacrosse at Maryland in ninth grade, and by his senior year, he was ranked No. 81 nationally by Inside Lacrosse. “It is a great program, a historic program, and they have a great coaching staff. The coaching staff cares for their players, which was part of the reason I committed there,” O’Connell said about committing to Maryland.
This spring, O’Connell decommited from Maryland in part due to everything going on in the world. With spring sports canceled around the country, Maryland was set to have a backlog of players on the lacrosse team. According to O’Connell, the Maryland lacrosse coach was supportive of his decision and wanted what was best for him.
O’Connell’s focus shifted toward the hardwood. He received offers to play basketball from Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, NJIT, Lafayette, Marist, Niagara, UC-Santa Barbara, and UMBC. When Stanford offered, O’Connell committed. “When I heard about Stanford, I was all in on them. It is one of the best schools in the country, and they play basketball in a great conference. Coach Haase is a great coach. He has a great coaching staff, and when I heard Stanford, I just went all in,” O’Connell said about his commitment to Stanford.
Stanford has a talented recruiting class that already features Ziaire Williams, Max Murrell, Noah Taitz, and Brandon Angel. The addition of O’Connell bolsters Stanford backcourt.
O’Connell’s brother, Thomas, was a four-year lacrosse standout and national champion at Maryland. He transferred last year to St. John’s, used his final year of eligibility to walk-on, and eventually earned a scholarship to St. John’s to play basketball as a graduate student.
There is a possibility we see O’Connell play lacrosse down the road, but his focus is on basketball, and Stanford can expect him to bring energy every time he steps on the court.