NBPA: Tyler Zeller Spotlight

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. --- Tyler Zeller showed up a few days late to the NBPA Top 100 Camp because of some local obligations, but when it comes to being a high profile national recruit, he's already arrived.

Immediately after stepping off the court following his first game Thursday morning, Seth Davis of CBS/SI fame grabbed him for an interview. Then a few steps later he was doing another interview. And shortly thereafter he was talking to reporters again.

"I thought I'd just be the normal kid that looks at everybody else doing interviews," Zeller said. "It's pretty amazing."

A year ago Zeller wasn't hearing from the top programs outside his region. And he was nowhere to be found in the national rankings.

"I didn't play that well last year in AAU or school ball, so my name wasn't well known," he explained.

Now the 6-11, 220-pound rising senior at Washington, Ind. is considered a Top 20 prospect.

"I just developed a lot more and kind of grew into my body a little bit more and took part in a lot of workouts," he said.

And the heavy college interest and media attention followed.

"It's been shocking," Zeller said. "You get a lot more attention, but you start getting used to it after a while."

Ask him for his school list and he rattles them off like he's done it a hundred times – and that's probably because he has.

"Notre Dame, Purdue, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas and North Carolina," he recites. "No, [that's not the order of preference]. That's just the order I remember them in."

That's a combination of schools that have been showing interest before and after his emergence this spring.

"Purdue, Indiana, Notre Dame and Iowa and Iowa State were all in there before," Zeller said. "Kansas was kind of in there, we went out to Midnight Madness there but they didn't start recruiting me hard until my ranking started going up.

"North Carolina didn't have a scholarship until Brandan Wright left and they started recruiting me after that. Kentucky, [Billy] Gillespie just got there. Tennessee, my assistant coach is a huge Tennessee fan and knows the coaches, so that's how they got in."

Any additional schools that inquire are being told they missed the boat.

"I don't let any more schools in because it's too late and I don't want to waste my time," he said.

Zeller knows what he's looking for in a school, and has his three key factors. The problem is that multiple finalists fit the mold.

"Coaches, players you can get along with and then academics," he said are most important to him. "I want to go into business."

Having already taken unofficial visits to all the schools on his list except Tennessee (or, in the case of UNC, he's visited twice), the next step is to cut the list down to five and take official visits in the early fall.

"Hopefully I can narrow it down to five or less by the time school starts and then I want to be able to commit and sign in November," Zeller said. "I'm still working on [narrowing it down]. You have to go from how you feel about the coaches and then from there I'm not sure how I'm going to narrow it down.

"I'm waiting for something to click."

Tyler Zeller


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