Zeller Follows Tar Heel Pipeline

The North Carolina Tar Heels won a long recruiting battle for one of the top big men in the land. Tyler Zeller made it official Monday afternoon.

On Sunday night, word began to leak out that Tyler Zeller, Scout.com's highest-rated big man still on the board, committed to North Carolina. Zeller indicated he simply felt most comfortable at UNC. Indiana and Purdue were the other finalists and Scout.com learned that Notre Dame fell back shortly after his official visit to South Bend.

Twelve hours after the news began to break; Zeller announced at a press conference that he was officially becoming a part of the UNC basketball program. His addition is significant on a few fronts.

Zeller, rated No. 16 in the nation by Scout.com, is one of the elite power forwards in the class. His ability to change ends and run the floor should mesh with Roy Williams' desire to change ends with lightning speed.

Zeller, an Indiana native, is following a Hoosier pipeline to Chapel Hill that has previously included two of UNC's best-ever big men. The last two elite Indiana post players the Heels signed – Eric Montross and Sean May – played on national title teams for the Tar Heels.

"They definitely brought it up to me," Zeller said. "It was a trivia question on my official visit."

The decision of this Midwest big man was well-chronicled from spring through the fall. Zeller rode a roller coaster as he examined each program. With ties to virtually all three Indiana schools, most figured the distance would keep him close to home. It didn't.

"I was looking at the school and not the distance," Zeller said. "Everyone thought it mattered to me. It's a long trip home but I won't be coming home much."

In the last week, speculation raced about not only where Zeller would land but also who led. It was late last week when the big fella settled in on his choice.

"Officially I made it last Thursday," he said. "Before that everything was shaky. I was still looking at all different schools."

Now it's onto the business of Washington High School basketball. The probable All-American can put down his cell phone and concentrate on hoops in his home state for one final season -- for which practice begins today.

"I think it'll really hit me in a couple of days," he said. "I haven't fully realized that I don't have to make all the phone calls I used to. It wasn't terrible but I won't have to do it anymore."

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