Summer Update: Tyler Zeller

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- When Tyler Zeller decided to return for his senior year at North Carolina, it wasn't just for the chance to win another national title. It was so he could enjoy one last summer in Chapel Hill, too.

Time is quickly running out on Zeller's life as an undergrad and that's not lost on the 7-footer. Zeller said on a July afternoon that he's enjoyed this summer and looked to make it a special one.

"Yeah it's kind of depressing," Zeller said of leaving Chapel Hill next spring. "It's one of those things that I have been here three years and I've loved it. It's gone very, very fast. Coach has always told us it goes by a lot faster than you'd like."

Aside from playing pick-up, working out and taking geology and corporate finance classes, Zeller has looked to get outdoors more. Video game tournaments be damned, Zeller said he didn't want to spend his last summer in Chapel Hill cooped up.

"On the weekends I've gone to a couple lakes. I went home one weekend," Zeller said. "I think I'm more just enjoying my weekends. Getting my work in during the week and at the same time on the weekends taking it easy and actually getting out and doing something whereas before I'd stay around here hang out in my room and play video games."

When Zeller has gone home to Indiana it's been a little different than when he was in high school. He has tried to keep a low profile, hanging out mostly at his house and hitting up the Wal-Mart late at night. If he doesn't, things can get a little out of control.

"Our town is kind of crazy about basketball," Zeller said. "I love going home but at the same time -- the last time my mom told people I was coming home she had a box full of things I had to autograph by the time I (left). It's just things like that."

On the court, Zeller said the team has continued to bond. They'll normally choose an afternoon time to lift and then play pickup later on in the day.

During pickup, the team is taking on all challengers. Instead of splitting up for the pickup games like they have in the past, the team is facing the former Carolina players by themselves this summer.

"I think that helps us out a lot because they're pretty good and it forces us to play together, to work with each other and hopefully we can compete and win a couple games," Zeller said.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing to Zeller is how much the team enjoys spending time with each other. He said after pickup games it often takes the team over an an hour to get their things and go because they just enjoy talking to each other so much.

"It is fun and I love this group of guys," he said.

With last month's NBA Draft one of the least impressive in recent memory, it's hard not to think about how much money Zeller potentially left on the table by returning to Carolina. But the senior said this summer has lived up to expectations and he hasn't regretted his decision at all thus far.

"Enjoying college is something you don't get a chance to go back and do," Zeller said. "The NBA is always there and it would've been great to get the money but at the same time I think I'm going to enjoy this year of college a lot and then hopefully the money is still there for me. I'm very happy with my decision and it was tough but at the same time I think I'm going to enjoy it."

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