"The whole thing about the program, between academics and athletics, it's just top-notch, first class and I fit in there. I fit in there with the coaches and the players and I really think that that's the best place for me to go."
Luke Zeller had been strongly considering Kansas and Illinois and anticipated making a decision before the start of his senior year. The 2005 prospect was so wowed on his recent visit, however, that he didn't want to prolong the process any further.
"I definitely wanted to get it done before my senior year, but this coming early is definitely a blessing. I knew it was a perfect fit and just didn't want to wait any longer or lead any of those other coaches on when I knew the perfect fit was Notre Dame."
Zeller sees the Fighting Irish as a program that's on the rise and climbing fast.
"I think the program can really jump start. The whole program is just on the verge of really breaking out and becoming one of those real prestigious, high ranked, big time schools."
Zeller turned down some big time programs like Kansas, Stanford and Illinois, making many wonder just how close a race it was for his services. Zeller says that in the end Kansas was close, but just not the same perfect fit that Notre Dame offered.
"Kansas was definitely right there. It was a tough decision, but Notre Dame was such a perfect that I didn't think there was anywhere else that was better for me."
Picking Kansas would have meant the opportunity to learn under Bill Self and Danny Manning. The duo visited Zeller last week and made quite an impression.
"Bill Self and Danny Manning were both in last week and I really enjoyed talking with Danny Manning and I think he could have taught me some different things, but it just didn't work out. He's a heck of a player and he'll be a heck of a coach and Bill Self is a heck of a coach.
"The thing that impressed me the most about Danny Manning was how modest he was and how humble he was in everything he said. If Coach Self said, 'Here's Danny Manning's trophy from when he played.' Danny would say, 'No, that's Kansas' trophy.' I really appreciated that, when he said that."
Soon it will be Zeller's turn to start winning trophies of his own, and he's thrilled that such an opportunity will come in South Bend.