Washington (Ind.) High
First and foremost is his mobility. He is fluid running the floor and is committed to it at both ends. He changes ends better than any big guy in this class and it's really a unique trait because it tells you a few things. It tells you about his basketball IQ, it tells you that he's always looking for an advantage and it tells you that he hustles. And when you're trying to set yourself apart from other guys, those are some big attributes to have.
In terms of his offensive game, he's got great touch around the basket, he can legitimately play from the free throw line and in, and he'll dunk what he can. When he's got an inferior guy in front of him he'll work him over.
He changes ends better than any big guy in this class.
On defense, he'll block what comes at him. He's not going to be a guy who chases shots, but he'll play his area and play his man. I think he has a lot of natural instincts and fundamentally he's a pretty sound player.
Areas for Improvement:
Clearly he's going to have to get stronger. He's not going to be one of those super strong guys; you can put weight on him but he doesn't have a wide-bodied frame. He can do a better job rebounding the ball – he has instincts, but a lot of it is the product of a lack of strength. So if he can put on some weight and continue working on his rebounding, that's going to round out two key areas where he can improve. I think he'll also want to continue trying to expand his range and he's capable of doing it.
He's a power forward. He's not a "5." With his skill set, he'll be a versatile power forward. He'll wind up being a good passer, solid athlete at his level and he'll be a good college basketball player. He'll be a guy you can count on for points, and I think whatever program he picks, he'll fit into whatever style you ask him to do. He's not a guy you necessarily want to pound it to endlessly on the blocks, but he can play down there.
He played very well at the Real Deal tournament in Arkansas in April and from that moment on he was running downhill playing better and better. He took home the MVP at the Tournament of Champions the next month and was pretty solid and steady throughout the summer. If you had to list a breakout performance, it was the Real Deal where he became a legitimate first tier guy with elite schools based on that effort.
He stood his ground this summer with B.J. Mullins (No. 6 overall prospect in 2008), which was a great sign. He's played against the best guys in the country – he won some battles and lost some battles – but he's pretty resilient. He had a situation where he ran into Derrick Favors (No. 1 overall prospect in 2009) in Las Vegas and Favors did a good job against him, but it wasn't like the next time out it affected him. He's really pretty consistent and I think that's key.
No. 4 PF and No. 16 overall -- He's a primary target for elite schools. A top 25 kid. He's ranked pretty solid where he's at and I expect will remain right around 15-25. He's a proven commodity at this level. The next jump you'll see from him will occur when he gets on a college campus and takes part in a college strength and conditioning program.
There's been a change in his personality. And he has said as much. He was content to sit back and wait his turn and just wasn't a confident basketball player as a rising junior. That's not the case anymore. He's very confident at this stage and I think as he continues to get stronger he'll become even more confident. Tyler Zeller is one of those guys who is just remarkably self aware. And I think a lot of guys don't approach it like he does. He's got a great understanding of where he was, where he is and where he can be. He'll be the first to say he's got more room to grow and he'll be the first to tell you he wasn't ready as a junior, but he's definitely ready now.