"I really wasn't too surprised by the offer, because I thought all along that it would come eventually," said Zeller, a 6-11, 209-pound rising senior at Washington (Ind.).
But others weren't so sure in the spring, when Zeller performed unevenly at some national travel events and appeared stuck among several other contenders on the Tar Heels' frontcourt radar for the Class of 2011. In Indianapolis and continuing into Las Vegas, however, Zeller has been one of the most consistently strong performers in the Class of 2011.
Instead of pondering a potential scholarship offer from UNC, Zeller now is considered a likely bet to become a McDonald's All-American next spring. And now the question: How does Carolina's formal entrance into his recruitment impact the picture?
"I was really excited for (the offer)," Zeller said. "The timing was great because it happened right after I played pretty well at Adidas, and now I have a lot of great schools to think about. Carolina offering definitely was a big point for me."
Included on his list along with North Carolina are Indiana, Butler, Ohio State, Purdue, Notre Dame, Michigan, Florida, Texas and Virginia Tech. All of his favorites have offered, and official visits will weigh prominently in his decision.
"By the end of summer I'm going to narrow it down to about five schools, because that's the most official visits I can take," he said. "I want to see the campuses and keep learning about the programs."
The Zeller family certainly possesses close familiarity with North Carolina and Chapel Hill. With older brother Tyler a rising junior for the Tar Heels, Cody has immediate access to first-hand information about UNC. Even with that, however, he has taken the time to form opinions of his own.
"Carolina has such great tradition and has put out so many pros," he said. "It's a who's who of basketball, with some of the best players ever. I also really like the fan support.
"There really aren't too many negatives," he said with a smile.
One factor that always plays into recruits' decisions — and particularly for players considering spending their college years with Roy Williams — is style of play.
For his part, Zeller views himself as a good fit if he ultimately opts for the Tar Heels.
"My high school team is big on running up and down the court, and obviously that's what (UNC does) too," he said. "I definitely could see myself fitting in well."