IU To Benefit From Latest Zeller Offer?

Bloomington - North Carolina may have just extended a scholarship offer to Washington (Ind.) standout Cody Zeller, but that could ultimately prove to be a good thing for another one of his suitors - Indiana...

Call me crazy, call me foolish, call me out of my mind, but the more I think about it, North Carolina Coach Roy Williams' decision to offer the 6'10" Washington (Ind.) standout could be a very good thing for the Hoosier basketball program.

So how do I get from Point A to Point B? Here's the road map….

While Scout.com's 14th-ranked player in the 2011 class won't come anywhere close to revealing his hand when it comes to his recruitment, those who are close to him have long suggested that Indiana has been and continues to be in good shape with him. That's not to suggest that he's focused exclusively on Indiana or that a decision is coming anytime soon, but it's become clear that there's a lot he likes about Coach Tom Crean's program.

Zeller likes the proximity, he likes Indiana's tradition, and he probably likes the make-up of the team as well. That wasn't necessarily the case for his older brother Tyler, who considered playing for Coach Kelvin Sampson before ultimately opting to head to Chapel Hill to play for Williams.

As for Williams and North Carolina, it's clear that in this day and time, no program has a higher success rate in landing the marquee recruits that it covets. Whether it's Harrison Barnes in the 2010 class, John Henson in 2009 or Ed Davis in 2008, the Tar Heels get the big names that they want more often than not, and any recruiting victory over UNC is an attention grabber.

But winning over the Zeller family a second time might not be the easiest chore for Williams.

While Tyler does have a national title under his belt, he's yet to emerge as one of the Tar Heels marquee players. He averaged 3.1 points, 2.0 rebounds and 7.8 minutes as a freshman, missing 23 games due to a broken wrist. As a sophomore he averaged 9.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 17.4 minutes while coming off the bench in each of the 27 games he played. In a roster littered with McDonald's All-Americans, playing time has never been a guarantee for Tyler, no matter who has graduated or departed early for the NBA.

In Cody's case, North Carolina already has a commitment from another highly-ranked power forward, James McAdoo, in the 2011 class. The fourth-ranked player nationally in ‘11, the 6'8", 220-pound McAdoo had considered enrolling early at UNC this fall but has instead opted to play his senior season at Norfolk Christian (Va.) H.S. He'd arrive at UNC at the same time Zeller would, which has to raise some issues in the Zellers' minds about immediate playing time.

There also isn't much draw for Cody to go to UNC to player with Tyler. By Cody's freshman season Tyler will be a senior, giving them only one season together.

All of those things will give Zeller reason to ponder a UNC scholarship offer and not simply jump at the opportunity. While the Tar Heels will be a factor in his recruitment, there's no reason to simply anoint them the frontrunner. Instead, UNC could very well have some obstacles to overcome.

If those obstacles prove to be too much, Indiana could very easily emerge victorious in this heavyweight recruiting battle and fend off the likes of UNC, Ohio State, Florida and Purdue, among others.

If that does prove to be how this recruitment plays out, Indiana will be getting not only an outstanding player who tops its 2011 wish list, but also a great deal of positive publicity for its ability to fend off UNC and others for a marquee in-state recruit. Considering the exodus of a slew of in-state players in recent years, that would be a welcomed sight for IU fans.

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