"This is a great honor and something I have worked for my entire four years at Carolina," says Zeller. "To be the first Tar Heel to win this award at a school with so much tradition and prestige adds to the honor. It truly means a lot to my family. My parents brought me up with the belief that academics are more important than athletics, so as much as it means to me, it may mean even more to my mom and dad. And I thank them for the guidance and support they've always given my brothers and me."
Zeller, a three-time Academic All-ACC selection, was the 2011 recipient of the Skip Prosser Award as the ACC's top men's basketball scholar-athlete.
The Washington, Ind., native currently leads the ACC in offensive rebounds, and is second in field goal percentage and double-doubles, third in rebounding, seventh in scoring and eighth in blocked shots. He has won Carolina's defensive player of the game award a team-high 11 times and scored 20 or more points seven times. He is Carolina's leading active career scorer with 1,316 points.
"We are ecstatic for Tyler and his family," says UNC head coach Roy Williams. "He is the ultimate example of a true student-athlete. We've been very honored to work with Tyler these past four years and have seen the attention and commitment he's given to both phases of being a student-athlete. He's a first-class young man who comes from a great family and is an outstanding basketball player and student."
Carolina's previous first-team Academic All-Americas include Billy Cunningham (1965), Charles Scott (1970), Dennis Wuycik (1972), Steve Previs (1972), Tom LaGarde (1976), Steve Hale (1986), Eric Montross (1993) and Zeller (2011).
Zeller is the seventh ACC player to earn multiple first-team Academic All-America honors. The others include three-time honorees Mike Gminski (Duke) and Tom McMillen (Maryland) and two-time recipients Shane Battier (Duke), Todd Fuller (NC State), Terry Gannon (NC State) and Jim Spanarkel (Duke).
Joining Zeller on the 2012 Capital One Academic All-America Division I men's basketball first team are Ohio State guard Aaron Craft, Saint Mary's (Calif.) guard Matthew Dellavedova, Wofford guard Brad Loesing and Duke forward Mason Plumlee.
To be eligible for Academic All-America consideration, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.30 on a scale of 4.00, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings at his/her current institution and be nominated by his/her sports information director.