Zeller Impresses At Recent Nike Camp

Washington, Ind. center prospect Luke Zeller recently participated in a Nike Camp in Indianapolis. Zeller committed to Notre Dame on April 28th of this year to play for Irish basketball coach Mike Brey and the Irish. Irish Eyes got a chance to get a sneak peek at Zeller at the recent Nike camp and we were impressed.

200 of the best high school players in the country came to Indianapolis to display their skills in the hope of attracting the attention of not only college coaches, but pro scouts as well.

Notre Dame recruit Luke Zeller was one of the many campers to attend and compete against some of the premier talent in the country. I had the opportunity to watch him play against one of the best big men in the class of 2005, future Duke Blue Devil, Josh McRoberts.

McRoberts is ranked in the top 10 by most recruiting analysts for the class of 2005. He and Luke are very familiar with each other as they both play their basketball in the state of Indiana. They have either played against each other or have been teammates numerous times. Luke Zeller is also very well known by the recruiting analysts as well. He is ranked somewhere between 20-30 in most national rankings and is ranked the No. 6 power forward by Insiders.com.

Luke Zeller's performance was solid but not outstanding. He was able to take McRoberts out on the perimeter and knock down the 18-foot jump shot. Matter of fact, Zeller only took four shots during the scrimmage and all of them were 15 feet and beyond. He made three out of the four jump shots, with the one he missed rimming in and out.

One of Zeller's biggest assets is he possesses a very nice touch for a big man. I saw Luke not only scrimmage, but also participate in some three-man drills earlier in the afternoon. To be truthful, he probably had one of the nicest, fundamentally-sound jump shots at the camp. Everything from his form, rotation on the ball and follow through was perfect. It amazed me, a kid at that size, could have such a pretty jump shot.

Luke also thrives in his passing ability. One of the reasons he only took four shots is that he is a pass-first type of player--something you don't see much in this camp--a player looking to get his teammates involved.

He likes to square up after receiving the ball in the post and find the open man on the opposite wing for a three point jump shot. This is something he can bring to Notre Dame; to force the double team and kick the ball back out for a three point shot. With all of Notre Dame's great shooters, Luke will be able to get them more open shots.

One of Zeller's best pass plays is where he'll get the ball in the post and makes a no-look bounce pass to a player cutting to the basket from the opposite wing. He reminds me a lot of Bill Walton with his passing abilities out of the post.

Like any young player, Zeller has some weaknesses. Zeller's biggest weakness--and it's something many high school athletes struggle with--is lack of strength. Luke is a very slender 6-11 and many times McRoberts or another post player would just muscle him off the block when he tried to post up.

This is why I believe he settles for so many jump shots--he struggles to keep his position underneath. Furthermore, he struggled to keep McRoberts off the boards during the scrimmage.

Zeller definitely needs to get with the Notre Dame strength trainer next summer and begin putting on additional weight and muscle.

Zeller also needs to work on his quickness. It seemed McRoberts could drive around Zeller from the perimeter, or make a quick drop step from the post and beat Luke to the basket. Secondly, he seemed to struggle in the transition game as he was always a second or two behind the ball, resulting in a lack of opportunities for easy buckets off the fast break.

Nevertheless, I believe weight training will help him improve his speed and quickness, which will help him become a better defender and allow him to become more active in the transition game.

Overall, I thought Luke had a good showing on the day when I watched him in both the workouts and scrimmage. His basketball skills were superior over most of the big men that were at the camp, including McRoberts.

McRoberts had the advantage in strength and appears to be an overall better athlete at this point in their careers.

Nevertheless, Zeller is still growing into his body and with additional weight and strength could become a dominant big man in the Big East.

I hope to follow up with an interview with Luke in the near future to get some comments from him about his Nike camp experience and his thoughts about playing for the Irish in the 2005-2006 season.

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories