- This tenacious rebounding center was undersized even by 1950s standards. Despite doing battle with larger pivotmen every night, the 6-2 O'Connell was the starting center on the Heights for four seasons.
- He was one of a number of New York City-area recruits who, under coach Al McClellan, began to elevate BC basketball during the pre-Roberts Center era, culminating in a 64-61 win over rival and national power Holy Cross. That game, played on March 4, 1952, was a watershed event for BC basketball; it marked the Eagles' first victory over Holy Cross in 23 years.
- O'Connell's 1952 senior team finished 22-5, but was overlooked by the postseason tournaments.
- Inducted into the Boston College Varsity Club Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.